EU to hold fresh talks on Russia sanctions: officials

9th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

European Union nations will hold fresh talks Wednesday about when to implement fresh sanctions against Russia, officials said, as differences emerged over how far they should be linked to a ceasefire in Ukraine.

The 28 member states finally agreed on a new sanctions package against Moscow on Monday, but said they would wait for a "few days" to implement them depending on the situation on the ground.

The ambassadors of the member nations to the EU hold a regular meeting on Wednesday and "will return to the issue, including an assessment of the implementation of the ceasefire," said Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton.

"The ceasefire appears to be holding, with some incidents, and we will continue to follow the situation," Kocijancic said Tuesday.

She said she could not comment on what the outcome of the ambassadors' meeting might be.

After lengthy discussions Monday, the ambassadors had finally agreed on a new sanctions package to hit Moscow hard after it allegedly intervened in support of pro-Russian rebels, enabling them to reverse recent Kiev government advances in eastern Ukraine.

At the same time, it was agreed that the EU would review the sanctions "depending on the situation on the ground" to see if a ceasefire reached Friday was holding, allowing peace efforts to get under way.

The package would be published in the EU's Official Journal "in the next few days," EU president Herman Van Rompuy said in a statement Monday.

"This will leave time for an assessment of the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the peace plan," Van Rompuy added.

Diplomatic sources said this approach, rather than a decision to implement the sanctions immediately as had been expected last week, reflected qualms among some member states about upping the ante so soon after the EU adopted tough sanctions in July targeting entire economic sectors.

Austria, Sweden, Cyprus, Germany "and probably others" were among those who wanted to proceed more cautiously, one of the sources said.

Details of the new sanctions will only be available once they are listed in the EU Official Journal.

But diplomats told AFP they would likely limit access to financial markets by Russian oil companies such as Rosneft and Transneft plus the petroleum unit of gas giant Gazprom.

They cover the same four areas as the previous measures in July -- capital markets, defence, dual-use goods with both military and civilian capabilities, and oil technology, they added.

© 2014 AFP

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