EU sanctions against Russia not effective but Finland backs them: MP

November 23, 2016 8:43 AM EST

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - European Union's sanctions against Russia are ineffective and hamper Finland's economic recovery, but Helsinki is sticking to the bloc's common policy, a senior Finnish member of parliament said on Wednesday.

The EU is expected to extend its sanctions against Russia next month despite questioning of the measures' effectiveness by countries like Italy and Hungary that have close business ties with Moscow.

Former Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, who is currently the chairman of the parliament's foreign affairs committee, joined in the chorus of criticism at a seminar, saying the sanctions have not had the desired effect on Russia's behavior.

"It is true that they are not effective," he told seminar participants. "But when they exist, you have to follow them ... It is a common European policy and we support it."

The sanctions, including restrictions on the access of Russian banks to international money markets, were first imposed after Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and Russia followed up with counter-sanctions.

Finland has suffered a decade-long economic stagnation and Russian recession, exacerbated by the Western sanctions, has pressured Finnish exports further in the past few years.

"Of course we hope that we could one day see an end for the sanctions ... But we need to get a solution in Ukraine," Vanhanen said.

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Tom Heneghan)



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