Ukraine: EU foreign ministers to discuss more Russia sanctions

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EU foreign and defense ministers are meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss potential further measures they could take to force Moscow to change course in Ukraine.   

The ministers are likely to mull over imposing further sanctions, especially on the Russian oil and gas sector.

A decision on further sanctions “is going to dominate and it’s not going to be easy,” an EU diplomat said ahead of the meeting.

The European Union and its Western allies have already imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia, including freezing the nation’s central bank assets.

But the sanctions have so far not succeeded in pushing the Kremlin to halt its invasion of Ukraine, where fighting showing no sign of abating.

Some EU nations like Poland and the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are pushing for tougher sanctions, including a ban on Russian oil and gas imports.

“It’s unavoidable we start talking about the energy sector, and we can definitely talk about oil because it is the biggest revenue to Russia’s budget,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said as he arrived at the Brussels meeting, according to Reuters news agency.

“We cannot get tired of imposing sanctions, we cannot get tired of bringing assistance and help to Ukraine,” he added.

Nevertheless, Germany, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas, and some other EU member states are resisting an embargo on Russian energy imports.

Overall, the EU relies on Russia for 40% of its gas.

Still, the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine is likely to increase pressure on EU leaders to toughen sanctions on Moscow.

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France, which heads the EU’s six-month presidency, has said that if the situation worsens even further in Ukraine, there should be no “taboos” in terms of sanctions.

EU defense ministers, meanwhile, will discuss a “strategic compass,” the closest thing the EU would have to a military doctrine, to adapt to a new geopolitical reality.

The ministers’ meeting comes ahead of a busy week of talks between Western allies over Ukraine, with an EU summit, a NATO summit and G7 talks all planned for later in the week.

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