Merkel Ally Says EU Poised to Ratchet Up Russia Sanctions

The European Union will intensify sanctions on Russia today after President Vladimir Putin failed to respond to EU demands and Ukraine ended a cease-fire with separatists, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Norbert Roettgen, chairman of Germany’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee, told Deutschlandfunk radio that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was right to end the cease-fire. Putin and pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine have “squandered” their opportunity for peace, he said.

“The European Union must and will stand by its word, otherwise it will lose credibility and no longer be able to do anything toward de-escalation and stability,” said Roettgen, a lawmaker with Merkel’s Christian Democrats. “The decision will come today.”

Poroshenko called a halt to the truce and vowed to retake Ukraine’s easternmost regions after he’d extended a cease-fire a second time with the backing of EU leaders, who said last week they’d expand sanctions if Russia didn’t meet their demands. They set a deadline of yesterday.

Brussels Talks

National representatives of the EU’s 28 member states are meeting in Brussels until early afternoon today. While Merkel has warned of full economic sanctions against Russian without compliance, so-called stage three measures can only be decided by EU leaders, who are not due to meet again until July 16. That leaves the prospect of expanding the list of names and entities already subject to sanctions.

Some business leaders and policy makers in Germany, Russia’s biggest EU trading partner, are reluctant to impose economic sanctions. Roettgen’s party colleague, Michael Grosse-Broemer, the parliamentary whip for Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc, signaled support for tighter measures, saying said it was “right” to push for more sanctions on Russia.

“Sanctions that have been held out must also be implemented,” Grosse-Broemer told reporters in Berlin today.

Russia has failed to control its border with eastern Ukraine and stem the flow of weapons and mercenaries to the region as demanded by the EU. Ukraine has cited more than 100 violations by the separatists over the cease-fire. Rebels killed 27 Ukrainian soldiers and wounded 69 during the cease-fire, the Foreign Ministry in Kiev said yesterday.

Efforts to defuse the conflict, which escalated into armed clashes after Ukraine’s Moscow-backed leader fell in February and Russia annexed Crimea, have stumbled even after Merkel and French President Francois Hollande spent the last three days exhorting Putin and Poroshenko in telephone calls of more than an hour’s duration.

“There was no significant change in the position of Russia and the separatists,” Roettgen said.

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