EU head Tusk eyes further sanctions over Ukraine
EU head Donald Tusk said Friday he was consulting EU leaders on the next steps to take to increase "the costs of aggression" in eastern Ukraine where a ceasefire has failed to stop the fighting.
With the latest peace accord breached more than 300 times, "we are clearly reaching a point when further diplomatic efforts will be fruitless unless credibly backed up by further action," Tusk said in a statement.
"For this purpose, I am now consulting European Union leaders on the next steps. These will be directed to increase further the costs of aggression on eastern Ukraine."
Tusk did not refer to sanctions directly but used the same diplomatic wording endorsed at successive EU summits as the Ukraine crisis has deepened.
On Monday in its most recent move, the 28-nation bloc imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 19 people, including two Russian deputy defence ministers, and nine entities for their role in the Ukraine conflict.
The decision brought the total EU Ukraine sanctions list to 151 people and 37 entities.
Brussels first imposed targeted sanctions on individuals after Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014, with many nations reluctant to go further for fear of damaging important economic and political ties with Moscow.
But they adopted much tougher and broader economic sector measures after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in July.
Germany and France demanded Friday that the latest Ukraine truce, agreed less than a week ago, be "fully respected" as pro-Russian rebels celebrated the capture of the strategically important town of Debaltseve and exchanged artillery fire elsewhere with government troops.
French officials said the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France would meet in Paris next Tuesday to discuss the conflict.
Tusk said he would travel to Kiev on Sunday "to express my solidarity with the people of Ukraine in these difficult times."
© 2015 AFP