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Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Euro­pean Union hawks on Rus­sia, led by Poland and Lithua­nia, have called for sanc­tions on Moscow after a new of­fen­sive by pro-Rus­sian rebels in east­ern Ukraine.

How­ever, power-bro­ker Ger­many took a more cau­tious line, with states such as Cyprus that are eco­nom­i­cally de­pen­dent on trade and tourism from both Rus­sia and Ukraine, are re­luc­tant to go down the path of sanc­tions.

The EU has called an for­eign min­is­ters for Thurs­day after sep­a­ratists at­tacked Mar­i­upol, a strate­gic Black Sea port, last Satur­day with what NATO said was Rus­sian support. Kiev said 30 civil­ians were killed.

The re­newed fight­ing has put stronger sanc­tions back on the agenda a week after min­is­ters dis­cussed a memo by EU for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini sug­gest­ing EU gov­ern­ments could start talk­ing to Rus­sia again on some is­sues if Moscow im­ple­mented a Ukraine peace agree­ment.

One EU diplo­mat said it seemed un­likely at this stage that min­is­ters would adopt new sanc­tions on Thurs­day, with the most likely sce­nario be­ing that they would ask of­fi­cials to draw up pos­si­ble fur­ther sanc­tions.

“The re­sponse of the Western world should be very firm,” Pol­ish Pres­i­dent Bro­nis­law Ko­morowski said in War­saw. “The EU re­sponse should be to de­lib­er­ately raise the is­sue of tough­en­ing sanc­tions against Rus­sia.”

Lithua­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Li­nas Linke­vi­cius added: “Many times we have said that if the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine gets worse, if Rus­sia con­tin­ues its ag­gres­sive ac­tions, then we will im­pose ad­di­tional sanc­tions. This is ex­actly what I ex­pect from Thurs­day’s meet­ing.”

But Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier sug­gested Rus­sia had not yet crossed the red line that would trig­ger more sanc­tions.

“A lot de­pends on how the next three days go. After the talks I’ve had in the last days with some Euro­pean col­leagues, no­body is desperately am­bi­tious to meet in Brussels to im­pose sanc­tions,” he said.

A num­ber of EU coun­tries, in­clud­ing Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Bul­garia, Lux­em­bourg and Aus­tria, have only re­luc­tantly gone down the sanc­tions route.

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