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EU mulls tougher Russia sanctions

Tallinn - European Union leaders may use their summit next week to discuss the issue of further sanctions against Russia in the context of a deteriorating situation in Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in the Baltic states on Tuesday.

“That might be a debate to be continued at the next meeting of the European heads of state and government,” Steinmeier told a news conference in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, after talks with the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Picture: Yves Herman. Credit: REUTERS

The EU has set clear conditions for ratcheting up economic and diplomatic sanctions against Moscow, Steinmeier said, but he and the Baltic ministers had not reached a clear view in their talks on whether that point had already been reached.

“If Russia is responsible for a lasting destabilisation of Ukraine, then further decisions will become unavoidable,” said Steinmeier. “We have not conclusively discussed whether we are now in that situation.”

The failure of EU-mediated talks on the gas dispute between Kiev and Moscow at the weekend demonstrated that “we are far from a political solution to the Ukraine crisis”, he said.

This and the shooting down of a Ukrainian army transport plane by pro-Russian rebels constituted a “real setback for efforts to defuse the crisis”, the German minister said. - Reuters

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