EU wa­vers on tougher sanc­tions on Rus­sia

Post-Tribune - - Nation / World -

BRUS­SELS — De­spite tough rhetoric de­cry­ing Rus­sia’s in­creas­ing mil­i­tary in­volve­ment in Ukraine, Euro­pean Union lead­ers on Sun­day stopped short of im­pos­ing new sanc­tions against Moscow right away. In­stead, the 28-na­tion bloc’s heads of state and gov­ern­ment tasked their ex­ec­u­tive body to “ur­gently un­der­take prepara­tory work” for tougher economic sanc­tions, ac­cord­ing to sum­mit chair­man Her­man Van Rom­puy. The sanc­tions will de­pend on the evo­lu­tion of the sit­u­a­tion on the ground but “ev­ery­body is fully aware that we have to act quickly,” he added. The prepara­tory work will start Mon­day, he added. The fight­ing between the mil­i­tary and Rus­sian­backed sep­a­ratists in east­ern Ukraine has so far claimed 2,600 lives, ac­cord­ing to U.N. fig­ures. NATO said this week that at least 1,000 Rus­sian sol­diers are in Ukraine, which Rus­sia de­nies. An­other 20,000 Rus­sian troops are amassed just across Ukraine’s east­ern bor­der, NATO says. Sev­eral Euro­pean lead­ers had called for ad­di­tional sanc­tions at the out­set of the meet­ing in Brus­sels, but the fear of an economic back­lash ap­par­ently pre­vailed and led the bloc to grant Rus­sia an­other chance at avoid­ing tougher ac­tion. New sanc­tions would have required una­nim­ity among the lead­ers. Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, who briefed the lead­ers at the be­gin­ning of their talks, said a strong re­sponse was needed to the “mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion and ter­ror” fac­ing his coun­try. Con­ced­ing ground in the face of a rein­vig­o­rated rebel of­fen­sive, Ukraine said Satur­day that it was aban­don­ing a city where its forces have been sur­rounded by rebels for days. Gov­ern­ment forces were also pulling back from an­other it had claimed to have taken con­trol of two weeks ear­lier.

| FRAN­CISCO LEONG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Ukrainian loy­al­ist fighters stand guard on a hill on the out­skirts of Mariupol on Satur­day.

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