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EU to impose new sanctions on Russia

The Local/AFP · 29 Jul 2014, 10:30

Published: 29 Jul 2014 10:30 GMT+02:00

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President Barack Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel, President FrancoisHollande, Prime Minister David Cameron and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi "confirmed... their intention to adopt new measures against Russia," the French presidency said after the five leaders held telephone talks.

Eastern Ukraine has for weeks been the scene of fierce battles betweenpro-Kremlin separatists and the army, and clashes in the vast area where the Malaysia Airlines plane came down on July 17 have so far blocked attempts by Dutch and Australian police to access the crash site.

"Despite numerous calls made to President (Vladimir) Putin, they (the fiveleaders) regretted that Russia did not effectively pressure the separatists into negotiating or take concrete measures... to ensure control of the Russian-Ukraine border," the presidency said.

Despite pressure from abroad France has refused to scrap its €1.2 billion deal to sell two warships to Moscow. The new sanctions are not expected to impact on previous arms deals between EU states on Russia.

Russian banks will have a harder time accessing European capital markets and arms exports for military use will be banned, EU diplomats said on Tuesday.

There will also be a ban on exporting high-tech energy products to Russia, something which is likely to hit Germany the hardest out of all the EU's 28 member states.

Speaking after the call a spokesperson for Downing Street in London said the measures could be imposed within 48 hours.

The spokesperson said: “The leaders agreed the international community should therefore impose further costs on Russia and specifically that ambassadors from across the EU should agree a strong package of sectoral sanctions as swiftly as possible.

“They agreed the EU and United States should continue to work together to exert pressure on Russia to change course and to engage in a political resolution to the crisis before more innocent lives are lost.”

Story continues below…

Germany had been reluctant to up the stakes against Russia, knowing that any action would harm its economic interests.  German-Russian trade was worth €76.5 billion in 2013.

But on Monday Berlin changed its stance and agreed more pressure was needed on Putin.

The EU ambassadors are meeting on Tuesday in Brussels where details of the sanctions are expected to be finalized. 

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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