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EU weighs additional sanctions on Russia

By Agencles in Brussels | China Daily | Updated: 2014-09-03 09:33

Incoming official says Moscow is no longer a 'strategic partner' with regional bloc

European Union governments will decide on a package of new sanctions against Russia by Friday, incoming EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini told the European Parliament on Tuesday, calling for "the strongest possible response".

Russia was also no longer a "strategic partner" of the European Union, said Mogherini, the Italian foreign minister, as she took questions from members of Parliament following her nomination to the EU post on Saturday.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that only the United States was able "to moderate the party of war" in Ukraine.

"It is necessary to moderate the party of war in Kiev, and in reality only the US can do this," Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow.

EU weighs additional sanctions on Russia

Mogherini, who takes office in November, was scheduled to present a strengthened package of sanctions against Russia over its military invasion of Ukraine by Wednesday.

EU ambassadors will meet on Thursday and Friday, and the decision will be taken by Friday, Mogherini said.

"Things on the ground are getting more and more dramatic. We speak about an aggression, and I think sanctions are part of a political strategy," she said. She also described the situation as "a time of complete darkness".

Strengthened bans

Mogherini declined to give details of the sanctions package but said they would target Russia in four sectors, which include defense, dual-use goods and finance.

The new EU sanctions package could be coordinated with other G7 countries - the United States, Canada and Japan, Reuters reported.

Three people close to the discussions told Reuters on Monday that the strengthened sanctions could include banning Europeans from buying new Russian government bonds, limiting Moscow's ability to finance itself.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who led the push for a tougher EU response, said on Monday that Moscow's behavior in Ukraine must not go unanswered, even if sanctions hurt the German economy, which is heavily dependent on imported Russian gas.

Mogherini said she agreed with German President Joachim Gauck, who said Russia had "effectively severed its partnership" with Europe and wanted to establish a new order.

"The situation now is that a strategic partnership is over, clearly it's over. That was a choice of Moscow, first of all," she said.

"We have a problem in the Ukrainian territory. We have a conflict, clearly," she said.

She added that she hoped Russia will "choose to go back to being a strategic partner in the future, but it's not happening now".

Mogherini said she was speaking to Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee as Italian foreign minister and outlining Italy's foreign policy priorities for its current presidency of the European Union.

Mogherini will assume her role as head of the European Union's diplomatic service after European leaders appointed her to the job at a summit on Saturday. She will replace Britain's Catherine Ashton.

Reuters - AFP - Xinhua

(China Daily 09/03/2014 page12)

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