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European Union Mulls Sanction Options Against Russia

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner says the European Union is considering sanctions against Russia following its recognition of independence for the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. France has called an EU meeting Monday in Brussels to focus on what steps the 27-member bloc will take in terms of future relations with Russia. For VOA, Tom Rivers reports from London.

Bernard Kouchner says sanctions are a possibility among other unspecified means, but he adds the current impasse must be solved through negotiations.

Moscow's recognition of the independence of Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia lies at the core of its dispute with the West.

France has called an emergency European Union summit for Monday to discuss what it might consider to do collectively in light of Russia's refusal to pull back all of its troops from Georgia.

Meanwhile in Brussels, Moscow's ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, was asked at a news conference if he felt that the 27-nation body might actually levy some form of sanctions on Russia.

"I would not want to speculate on the outcome of the European Council, of course, I can only express the wish that the leaders, European leaders, heads of state and government of the European Union will be able to rise above the emotions of the day and consider, seriously and without prejudice the perspectives of strategic partnership with their important partner, the Russian Federation," said Chizhov.

Chizhov says sanctions would worsen relations between Russia and West and he says if they were to be implemented, they would actually hurt the West more than any pain that Russia might incur.

"First of all, I highly doubt that might ever happen, but theoretically speaking, hypothetically speaking, this would be to the detriment of the European Union, as much if not more, than to Russia," said Chizhov.

Just more than 60 percent of Russia's oil and gas exports go to the European Union, and EU leaders are well aware that higher prices could be one unwelcome outcome of imposing sanctions on Moscow.

Some European states, like Germany, have taken the view that the European Union should moderate its response if it wants to assume a mediator role to try to persuade Russia to pull back its troops, to accept international peacekeepers and to eventually strike a long-term solution acceptable to all.