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Ukraine calls on EU to punish Russia as nations waver on new sanctions

By Agencies in Kiev and Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2014-07-17 07:08

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has urged the European Union to take tough action against Russia over the separatist conflict in Ukraine's eastern regions at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Wednesday.

Diplomats in Brussels said EU leaders were likely to give the go-ahead on Wednesday to new sanctions, though they may fall short of the far-reaching economic measures sought by the United States and by some of the more hawkish members of the EU, including Poland and the Baltic states.

Poroshenko's website said he had spoken to Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, after intensified fighting in the east, in which Kiev has alleged Russian involvement in an airstrike on a residential area and the downing of a military transport plane.

Poroshenko informed Van Rompuy of new evidence of rebel fighters crossing into Ukraine from Russia along with heavy military equipment and arms, his website said.

He had called on the EU "to demonstrate a strong position of action by the European Union to support Ukraine", it said.

But nine EU member states are ready to block any attempts to impose new economic sanctions on Russia at the summit, ITAR-Tass cited a diplomatic source in a Western European country's permanent representation to the EU as saying.

"France, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, and Italy, which currently holds the EU presidency, see no grounds under the present circumstances for sectoral trade and economic sanctions against Russia, and they will oppose these measures at the summit," the diplomat was quoted as saying.

The report did not identify the diplomat.

The diplomat said economic sanctions against Russia required unanimous backing of all 28 EU countries, and each member state had the power to veto EU decisions.

US Vice-President Joe Biden told Poroshenko in a phone call on Tuesday that the US was working with European allies on further sanctions against Russia over the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.

The US is considering imposing unilateral sanctions on Russia over its threatening moves in Ukraine, a shift in strategy that reflects the Obama administration's frustration with Europe's reluctance to take tougher action against Moscow, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

"It is a pity that the president of the great power approaches international affairs from such positions," ITAR-Tass quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Wednesday

"Maybe, everything should be taken philosophically but we offer reason and pragmatism as an alternative to unilateral actions," Lavrov said.

Reuters - AP

(China Daily 07/17/2014 page11)

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