The US is ready to impose more sanctions on Russia, but the European Union is silent. President Obama spoke to EU leaders to push them towards more sanctions as Moscow continues to show more aggression towards Ukraine.
Reuters reported Obama will speak to British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday. According to the White House, the leaders agreed to just work closer together.
The President noted that the United States is prepared to impose targeted sanctions to respond to Russia’s latest actions. The leaders agreed to work closely together, and through the G7 and European Union, to coordinate additional steps to impose costs on Russia. The leaders underscored that Russia could still choose a peaceful resolution to the crisis, including by implementing the Geneva accord.
The leaders also talked about how Russia is making the situation worse in Ukraine while Ukraine’s leaders are taking steps to relieve the tension. The Ukrainian army took over three checkpoints outside of Sloviansk, killing five pro-Russian forces. Russia said the troops on Ukraine’s border will engage in military actions in case Moscow needs to protect Russian interests.
Italy and Germany are the most notable EU members who do not want to pass more sanctions. On March 28, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said it would be a big mistake to impose more sanctions on Moscow. Hungary receives 80% of their natural gas from Russia and Russia is their biggest trading partner outside of the EU.
On April 16, the European Commission shared documents with EU leaders that show how sanctions against Russia will affect EU countries’ economies. The categories examined included energy, finance, and trade.
“The important thing is that the measures are balanced,” said one EU diplomat briefed on the process.
“We can’t have a situation where a set of sanctions ends up having a retaliatory impact on one member state or two or three member states. If there are going to be repercussions from this, they have to be shared out.”
Obama told Russia the new sanctions are prepared and ready to be passed. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the EU is discussing sanctions and they are still possible.
“We are still discussing these types of sanctions against Russia. We are at level two of sanctions now. The sanctions taken must lower escalation and tensions in the region,” Fabius told reporters during a visit to Tunisia.
He was joined in Tunis by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier who said: “Time is running out to put a stop to this madness in Ukraine”.