The European Union believes sanctions imposed on Russia over its aggression against Ukraine does not prevent it from fighting the coronavirus and delivering aid to help curb the spread of the disease.

"Concretely and most specifically about Russia, the sanctions targeting Russian companies and individuals are linked to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol so these sanctions are in place because of the actions that undermine the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of Ukraine. This means that these sanctions do not prevent Russia from tackling the coronavirus outbreak," said Peter Stano, EU External Action speaker, who commented on the letter by three MEPs recently sent to the European Commission leadership, calling on them not to lift Russia sanctions under the pretext of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Indeed, we have received this letter and the reply will be sent through the usual channels. Just to recall, the High Representative Josep Borrel issued a declaration last Friday on behalf of the EU where it is stressed that sanctions should not impede the delivery of essential equipment and supplies which are necessary to fight the coronavirus and limit its spread worldwide. Now this was also echoed by the High Representative at his press conference last Friday after the informal video conference of the Foreign Affairs Council. And in general, the UN and EU sanction regimes provide for humanitarian exceptions.

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As reported earlier, on April 3, three MEPs – Petras Auštrevičius, Witold Waszczykowski, and Andrius Kubilius – sent a letter to the leadership of the European Commission, expressing concern over the recent ideas to consider lifting Russia sanctions under the pretext of the coronavirus pandemic.

They focused on the statement by the chairman of the Federation Council committee on international affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, who called for the lifting of international sanctions in connection with the coronavirus and plunging oil prices. At the same time, MEPs called on the EU leadership to increase pressure on Russia to make it halt hostilities against the backdrop of the coronavirus.

On April 3, the Vice President of the European Commission, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrel, called on all state actors, armed groups, and terrorist organizations to stop all armed conflicts and not to impede the supply of humanitarian aid to counter the spread of coronavirus.