EU leaders are threatening new sanctions against Russia for its “growing support” for pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine. The final decision about whether to impose them will be made at a summit next month.
In a rare joint declaration on Tuesday, leaders of the bloc’s 28 countries called an extraordinary meeting of their foreign ministers to discuss Moscow’s support for pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine and the targeted attack on Saturday of the key port city of Mariupol.
“We condemn the killing of civilians during the indiscriminate shelling of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on January 24, 2015. We note evidence of continued and growing support given to the separatists by Russia, which underlines Russia’s responsibility,” they said.
The ministers, who are set to convene on Thursday, will be asked “to consider any appropriate action, in particular on further restrictive measures,” after renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine by the Russian-backed forces.
Under Brussels’ rules, the foreign ministers will ask the European Commission to draw up new sanctions, which would then be passed by leaders. A final decision will be made when leaders meet again on February 12.
It remains unclear which sanctions the EU may seek to impose this time around.
The EU introduced a series of economic and political sanctions against Moscow and officials linked with last year’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Asset freezes and travel bans were placed on Crimean and Ukrainian rebels and Russians associated with the rebels, including some close to President Vladimir Putin.
The announcement comes a day after ratings agency Standard & Poor cut Russia’s rating to junk, or BB-Plus, level as the Russian ruble took a downturn and revenue from oil exports remained weak.