The European Union has threatened Russia with new sanctions if Moscow continues its military activity in eastern Ukraine. But the EU is deeply divided on the severity of possible actions, as many of the 28 members of the European bloc are dependent on Russian gas and trade.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels announced early Sunday after lengthy talks that they have asked the European Commission for a list to be prepared within a week of new measures to take against Russia if it fails to reverse course in Ukraine.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said, “The European Council says that it stands ready to take further significant steps in the light of the evolution of the situation on the ground and it requests the commission to urgently undertake preparatory work, together with (European External) Action Service and present proposals for consideration within, within a week.”
Merkel, Cameron warn Moscow
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Russian President Vladimir Putin must act quickly to avoid new sanctions.
Merkel said, “There is very significant inflow of troops and material from the Russian side into Ukraine, into Ukrainian territory, which means that there is a significant escalation on the ground, at the same time we said, and this is the view of all the members of the European Council, that there cannot be a military solution to this conflict, and that is to say that all our efforts must go towards keeping the channel of communication open and to try time and again, as President (Petro) Poroshenko also pointed out, to bring about a mutually agreed cease-fire.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Russia must realize its relationship with the West has a bleak future it Moscow continues on its current path in eastern Ukraine.
“It is a deeply serious situation and we have to show real resolve, real resilience in demonstrating to Russia that if she carries on in this way the relationship between Europe and Russia, Britain and Russia, America and Russia will be radically different in the future,” said Cameron. “They cannot go on in this way, we know from European history the danger of the territorial integrity of a nation state being threatened and undermined in this way and we have to send the clearest possible signal and tonight we have taken some important steps in doing just that.”
A joint statement by the EU leaders demanded Russia “immediately withdraw all its military assets and forces from Ukraine.” Despite overwhelming evidence, Russia denies it has such forces in Ukraine.
New sanctions on Russia would require unanimity among EU leaders, and many are wary of taking strong measures in fear of an economic backlash.
The United States has expressed strong support for the latest European actions, saying in a statement overnight, Washington is “working closely with the EU and other partners to hold Russia accountable for its illegal actions in Ukraine, including through additional economic sanctions.”
A top European official says Russia is pushing the conflict in eastern Ukraine to the “point of no return,” and that the European Union may impose new economic sanctions to encourage Moscow to “come to reason.”
(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)