16 July 2014, 15:30

European Union leaders to meet July 16, discuss sanctions against Russia

European Union leaders to meet July 16, discuss sanctions against Russia

European Union leaders to meet on Wednesday to pick the bloc's new foreign policy chief after choosing Jean-Claude Juncker to head the executive European Commission, but it may take some weeks before other top EU jobs are finally carved up, Reuter's reports.

The nominations, including other Commission posts as well as the president of the European Council of EU leaders, will shape Europe's response to challenges from the crisis in Ukraine to a stagnant economy and Britain's wavering membership of the bloc.

The leaders are also likely to discuss further sanctions against Russia, although diplomats cautioned that any such measures were unlikely to extend to full economic sanctions.

With Germany and others reluctant to go further, action may mostly involve extending asset freezes and visa bans to more Ukrainian self-defense forces and Russians.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and Bulgaria's Kristalina Georgieva, the EU commissioner for development, are possible alternatives as foreign policy chief if Mogherini is blocked. Some west Europeans see Oxford-educated Sikorski, a respected strategic thinker, as too belligerent toward Moscow.

While some countries want to finalise the selection in a package deal on Wednesday, officials cautioned that more talks lay ahead over jobs that may include an influential permanent head of the group of euro zone finance ministers.

"I wouldn't expect a package deal," said one official with knowledge of the talks. "I think they will only agree on the high representative (foreign affairs), which is a crucial part of the puzzle. The aim is to finalize by the end of July."

Lavrov criticizes Obama's appeal to expand sanctions against Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented on the appeal of US President Barack Obama to expand sanctions against Russia. Earlier on Tuesday Obama urged the ambassadors of EU countries to take tough measures against Russia. According to him, if EU leaders refuse to impose new sanctions, the White House will be ready to act alone.

According to media reports, the new sanctions will address the economy and the defense sector.

"It is sad that the President of a great power approaches world affairs with such positions," Lavrov said to reporters on Tuesday. "On the contrary, I would like to note that all the BRICS leaders stressed that by condemning unilateral action in world politics, they do not seek confrontation, but instead would like to work collectively with all the great powers in an attempt to find a mutually acceptable solution to various problems," continued Russian Foreign Minister.

Lavrov in this regard, drew attention to the Putin's words, who at the summit of the BRICS talked about positive experience in the solution of the Syrian crisis. "So we probably should take a philosophical approach to this, but we oppose unilateral actions and emotions with reasoning and pragmatism," said the Minister.

Putin calls BRICS leaders to develop collective approaches to resolution of urgent problems - Lavrov

The leaders of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries should not seek confrontation with other members of the global community but develop collective approaches toward the resolution of urgent problems, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"The (BRICS) summit confirmed that BRICS members, while speaking against unilateral actions in the world economy and politics, are not seeking confrontation but propose developing collective approaches toward the resolution of any problems," Lavrov said, reports Itar-Tass.

Washington uncertain about more sanctions against Russia

The White House will not comment on a bill calling for more sanctions against Russia, which was proposed by a group of senators a couple of months ago, White House spokeswoman Laura Lucas Magnuson told reporters.

The White House has no comment on this particular bill, lots of bills are debated in Congress, it's a usual thing, she said, when asked about the White House's attitude towards a bill known as the Prevention of Russian Aggression Act.

Introduced by a group of Republican senators in May, it suggests helping Ukraine by significantly expanding the US sanctions against Russia, deploying additional US and NATO troop contingents in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia and accelerating NATO and European missile defense efforts.

The bill calls for imposing sanctions on any high-ranking Russian officials and any businessman or entity associated with them.

It also stipulates asset blocking on major Russian banks and companies, including Sberbank, VTB, Vnesheconombank, Gazprombank, Gazprom, Novatek, Rosneft and Rosoboronexport.

The bill urges restrictions on the export of oil and gas technologies to Russia and on military cooperation with Moscow.

The senators recommend the US government to boost military and security aid to Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and a number of European countries, to provide allied status for Ukraine and increase US-funded Russian broadcasting into post-Soviet countries.

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