With EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels to discuss additional sanctions, Russia issues warning.
Following an attack by pro-Russian rebels of the port city of Mariupol last weekend, foreign ministers of Europe are mulling over additional sanctions. Russia has seen increasing sanctions imposed since its annexation of Crimea in March. Those sanctions, by both the US and the EU, have included travel bans and asset freezes of Russian individuals as well as businesses. While NATO continues to assert that there are hundreds of Russian tanks and other armored vehicles in east Ukraine, Russia continues to deny direct involvement.
It’s believed that the meeting of foreign ministers are discussing the extension of existing sanctions as well as possible fresh sanctions following the escalation in east Ukraine. However, any new measures would have to wait until the February 12 meeting of EU leaders and could include potential problems with the new Greek government.
Greece speaks out
“Anyone who thinks that in the name of debt Greece will renounce its sovereignty and its active participation in European policy making is making a mistake,” said new Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias in a recent statement. While Greece’s position is unknown, other countries have spoken out on the subject.
“If we see no signs of improvement we should proceed with further sanctions,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told the BBC . “How many people should be killed in order to realize that lines were crossed many times?”
France’s European Affairs Minister Harlem Desir recently made France’s position quite clear speaking with reporters in Brussels. “We will show the EU’s very strong unity and take all necessary steps, including extending and expanding the individual sanctions, in order to secure a return to a negotiated solution,” he said.
“We are going to reinforce the sanctions that target the separatists and those who support them, including in Russia.”
Thursday saw a strong response from Russia with Interfax reporting that Andrei Kelin, Russia’s envoy to the OSCE urging the West to end its support for the “party of war” in the Ukraine.
“I would like to appeal to the states that have influence on Kiev’s leadership, most of all to Washington. It’s time to stop indulging Ukraine’s party of war,” said Kelin.
“Only a big catastrophe can result from such developments,” he added.
His remarks echo those of Russian President Vladimir Putin who earlier this week blamed NATO for using the Ukrainian army to contain Russia.