Yesterday, the French Senate voted 302-16 to “gradually and partially” lift sanctions on Russia, despite opposition from the Hollande government.  While this vote has no legal effect, it was a strong showing of political opposition in France to the continuing EU sanctions.  The US and EU have largely remained aligned on their policy that Russia sanctions should not be rolled back until “full implementation” by both Russia and Ukraine of the Minsk agreement, but certain interest groups in Europe, including exporters of agricultural products and manufactured goods, and oil and gas companies, have been calling for more of a step-by-step approach.  The vote also included elements of political opposition to the Hollande government, and anti-Americanism.  Despite this symbolic gesture of opposition, EU sanctions are likely to be renewed for another six months at the end of July.  Germany, which also is facing significant political opposition to these sanctions, has taken on the role of maintaining EU unity on this matter and has expressed that it will not support any rollback until the Minsk accords are fully implemented.