— European Union leaders may use their summit next week to discuss the issue of further sanctions against Russia in the context of a deteriorating situation in Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in the Baltic states on Tuesday.
“That might be a debate to be continued at the next meeting of the European heads of state and government,” Steinmeier told a news conference in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, after talks with the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The EU has set clear conditions for ratcheting up economic and diplomatic sanctions against Moscow, Steinmeier said, but he and the Baltic ministers had not reached a clear view in their talks on whether that point had already been reached.
“If Russia is responsible for a lasting destabilization of Ukraine, then further decisions will become unavoidable,” said Steinmeier. “We have not conclusively discussed whether we are now in that situation.”
The failure of EU-mediated talks on the gas dispute between Kiev and Moscow at the weekend demonstrated that “we are far from a political solution to the Ukraine crisis”, he said.
This and the shooting down of a Ukrainian army transport plane by pro-Russian rebels constituted a “real setback for efforts to defuse the crisis,” the German minister said.
Developments in Ukraine
Pro-Russian troops prepare to travel in a tank on a road near the town of Yanakiyevo, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, June 20, 2014.
People carry their belongings as they walk to cross the border into Russia at the Ukrainian-Russian border checkpoint in Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, June 20, 2014.
A man examines a destroyed building after fighting between Ukrainian and pro-Russian fighters in the city of Artyomovsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, June 20, 2014.
Pro-Russian fighters wave a white flag to start a handover of the bodies of Ukrainian troops killed in a plane shot down near Luhansk, at a check point in the village of Karlivka near Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, June 18, 2014.
Pro-Russian fighters wait for representatives of the Ukrainian troops at a checkpoint in the village of Karlivka for the handover of the bodies of Ukrainian troops who died in a plane shot down near Luhansk, Ukraine, June 18, 2014.
Pro-Russian separatists stand guard at a check-point as a car drives past outside Luhansk, Ukraine, June 18, 2014.
Miners, one of them carrying a sign with the name of the mine Trudovskaya, march in support of peace in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, June 18, 2014.
Residents collect water at a pumping station in the eastern Ukranian city of Slovyansk, June 17, 2014.
A woman walks past portraits of protesters who were killed in clashes with police in February in Independence Square in Kyiv, June 18, 2014.
People take part in a rally to press demands for parliament to be dissolved and early elections outside the assembly in Kyiv, June 17, 2014.
Pro-Russian fighters walk past remnants of a downed Ukrainian army aircraft Il-76 at the airport near Luhansk, Ukraine, June 14, 2014.