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US pushes for new Russia sanctions ahead of EU talks

© Afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-16

US President Barack Obama is considering a raft of unilateral measures targeting the Russian economy that could be implemented if EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Wednesday do not agree on new sanctions against Moscow, US officials said.

But the White House has not yet decided on any steps that would supercede its stated desire to act in concert with Europe on levying new sanctions against Russia for its "destabilising" actions in Ukraine, a senior official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Intense discussions are continuing with US allies and Washington would prefer to move in coordination with Europe on the new measures, which would target sectors of the Russian economy as well as the defense industry.

An EU source said a new round of sanctions was looking "very possible" on the eve of the leaders summit on Wednesday.

A draft communiqué released ahead of the talks said Brussels will ask the European Investment Bank to suspend financing for new Russian public-sector projects as well as projects financed through the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

EU nations will also seek to broaden the scope of asset freezes to target companies and other Russian organisations that undermine Ukraine's sovereignty, the draft said.

The European measures would likely fall short, however, of the "sectoral sanctions" floated earlier by the US that were designed to hammer the Russian economy.

There have been clear signs this week that Washington is losing patience and that it wants Europe to move more quickly on sanctions.

The State Department issued a fact sheet on Monday detailing what it said were Russia's continuing efforts to destabilise Ukraine and its support for the pro-Moscow separatists in the east.

Russia falls short

Washington and Brussels unveiled joint measures targeting President Vladimir Putin's "cronies" as well as Russian officials involved in Ukraine policy in April.

World leaders warned of further sanctions in May as the Group of Seven (G7) met without a Russian leader for the first time since the 1990s. The grouping is known as the G8 when Russia participates.

Obama has spent recent weeks building support among US allies for a new round of sanctions on Moscow, making it clear he believes that Russia has not yet met the conditions laid out by G7 leaders last month to stop "destabilising" Ukraine. Those conditions required Russia to secure the border to prevent heavy weapons and material from being sent to separatist groups in eastern Ukraine.

Obama on Tuesday telephoned German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the crisis, the White House said.

"The leaders agreed that, to date, neither the United States nor Germany has seen Russia fulfill these required actions," the White House said in statement after the talks.

The West also wants Putin to work with the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe on monitoring the border and to use his influence with separatists to convince them to lay down their arms.

"The longer that this goes on, the more difficult it will be for us to put Ukraine on the stable, sound footing – both politically and economically – that we would like to see them be on," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday.

Earnest declined to specify the targets or timeline for the new sanctions, as US officials sought to prevent Russian officials from shielding assets or moving money out of the reach of sanctions.

Vice President Joe Biden has made repeated telephone calls to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has presided over a military operation to seize back territory in eastern Ukraine from separatists.

Biden on Tuesday "told President Poroshenko that the United States was engaging with European leaders to discuss the imposition of costs on Russia for its continued escalation of the conflict", a White House statement said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

Date created : 2014-07-16

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