Russia faces new sanctions over contact group snub, Merkel says

by Reuters
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 15:05 GMT

BERLIN, March 12 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday Europe will impose tougher sanctions on Russia next week if there is no sign in the next few days that Moscow is willing to engage in a "contact group" to seek a diplomatic solution for Ukraine.

"Almost a week ago we said if that wasn't successful within a few says we'd have to consider a second stage of sanctions," she said on a visit to Warsaw. "Six days have gone by since then and we have to recognise, even though we'll continue our efforts to form a contact group, that we haven't made any progress."

If no progress is made by Monday, EU foreign ministers will impose sanctions such as visa bans and asset freezes on those responsible for Russia's actions against Ukraine and EU leaders will discuss this at their summit next Thursday, Merkel said.

Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk also said EU leaders were eager to sign a political association agreement with Ukraine's pro-Western government at next week's summit.

"The political element of an association agreement should be signed quickly and we will strive to be able to sign it by the next European summit," she said, adding that one of the aims was to facilitate Ukrainian exports to the EU's markets.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.