Over the last week, yet another information wave dedicated to the lifting of Russia sanctions, has swept across the EU. First, the issue was raised by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while Slovakian parliament later announced its intentions to consider a resolution on abolishing economic restrictions on Russia – the move supported by the country's parliament chair, Andrej Danko.
We could as well ignore the developments as we've long become used to hearing such appeals, which have yielded zero effect over the past years, but these latest reports came against the background of Russia's return to the PACE, which completely ignored the JIT findings in the MH17 probe.
Now, the issue of MH17 is standing out really sharply. After all, it was after the tragedy in the Ukrainian skies back in 2014 that Europe took another look at the war in eastern Ukraine and intensified its efforts to strengthen restrictions on Russia. But today we're seeing that, perhaps, it's either the "time heals" thing, or memory fails many EU politicians, especially their new wave, full of radicals and populists generously sponsored by Russian foundations, who have been speaking up vigorously of normalization of relations with Moscow.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to just lift sanctions. To do this, some good reasons are needed. And such reasons could be achieved by both creating a semblance of normalization in the east of Ukraine and resolving the MH17 issue.
It should be noted that in both directions, the Kremlin has been working really hard, and the MH17 theme should lay the foundation for the future lifting of sanctions, just like the passenger jet downing once laid the foundation for the most painful economic and political restrictions imposed on Russia.
At the same time, Russia's buying up of special opinions to be voiced by a number of foreign politicians on the MH17 issue is now in full swing. Indeed, while the Joint Investigation Team recognized the involvement of the Russian military in the shooting down of the Malaysian plane, a number of Malaysian politicians, such as Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and former ambassador to the Netherlands Fauziah Taib, questioned the conclusions of investigators, sparking anger among many of their international counterparts, but never changing the point of view, thus abusing the principles of dignity and integrity.
Meanwhile, reports are coming that the Kremlin is making attempts to reach a secret accord with the Netherlands and other interested parties in the MH17 case. In particular, it's about solid monetary compensation to the families of the victims promised to be distributed due to Russia's "goodwill", without any subsequent legal prosecution of the Russian Federation.
To some extent, such a move would mean that Russia pleads guilty, while no one will be ultimately punished. And, in fact, this could serve as a start for raising the issue of lifting, at least, part of the sanctions, if not all of them.
But it should be understood that in order for the European society, which stands on the principle that any crime must always be punished, to be explained why this does not apply to Russia which killed hundreds of EU citizens, a certain image will first be created for Russia in international media. Or, to put it more clearly, Russia will be returning into the European information space with a gradually improved "face". And without the assistance of certain political forces, such campaign would have no chances of succeeding.
So I wouldn't be surprised if more unpleasant and depressing news keep coming from Europe. The season of sales on "indults" is open, as is the season of sales on relevant newsbreaks both in Russia and the West.
Now we're waiting for the next move on the part of Moscow...