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