BRUSSELS (AP) — The United States and the European Union are preparing a powerful one-two punch against the Russian economy, with EU ambassadors meeting Tuesday to discuss a dramatic escalation in the trade bloc’s sanctions on Russia.
Measures under consideration include limiting Russia’s access to European capital markets and halting trade in arms and dual-use and sensitive technologies. A decision on proposed new EU sanctions was expected later in the day.
In a rare videoconference call with President Barack Obama, the leaders of Britain, Germany, Italy and France expressed their willingness Monday to adopt new sanctions against Russia in coordination with the United States, an official French statement said. The Western nations are demanding Russia halt the alleged supply of arms to Ukrainian separatists and other actions that destabilize the situation in eastern Ukraine.
The show of Western solidarity comes as the U.S. accuses Russia of ramping up its troop presence on its border with Ukraine and shipping more heavy weaponry to the pro-Moscow rebels.
“It’s precisely because we’ve not yet seen a strategic turn from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin that we believe it’s absolutely essential to take additional measures, and that’s what the Europeans and the United States intend to do this week,” said Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser.
Europe, which has a stronger trade relationship with Russia than the U.S., had lagged behind Washington with its earlier sanctions package, in part out of concern from leaders that the penalties could hurt their own economies. But a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said following Monday’s call that the West agreed that the EU should adopt a “strong package of sectoral sanctions as swiftly as possible.”
Pace reported from Washington. Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.