By RAF CASERT, Associated Press
BRUSSELS (AP) – The EU chief executive on Wednesday warned Russia that the bloc has a battery of additional sanctions if Moscow decides to invade neighboring Ukraine.
On the eve of an EU summit on the issue, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that beyond strengthening and extending existing sanctions, the EU can adopt “ unprecedented measures with serious consequences for Russia ”.
Von der Leyen told the European Parliament that there are already economic sanctions targeting Russia’s finances, energy and sectors due to its annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula in 2014 and actions the West considers as more and more aggressive since.
She did not specify what the new sanctions might consist of.
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US intelligence officials say Russia has moved 70,000 troops to the Ukrainian border and is preparing for a possible invasion early next year. Moscow denies planning to attack Ukraine and dismisses Western concerns as part of a smear campaign.
In the draft conclusions of Thursday’s EU leaders’ summit seen by the Associated Press, the 27 countries promise that “any further military aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences and a high cost in response.”
The EU would coordinate any sanctions package with the US and Britain.
While some nations see an attack as imminent, others, such as France and Germany, believe there is still time for diplomacy to work.
“Above all, I call on Russia to defuse the escalation, to continue diplomatic channels and to respect its international commitments,” said von der Leyen.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will have talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Brussels later on Wednesday.
In 2015, France and Germany negotiated a peace deal that brought an end to large-scale hostilities in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
Efforts to reach a political settlement of the separatist conflict, which has claimed more than 14,000 lives in seven years, have failed. Sporadic skirmishes continue along the tense line of contact. Russia has so far refused to meet with France and Germany for further peace talks over the conflict.
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