Merkel Says EU to Discuss Russia Sanctions at Next Summit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European Union leaders will weigh intensified sanctions on Russia this week amid reports of a military incursion into Ukraine and expanded fighting with rebels.

“We are getting reports that there’s an increased presence of Russian soldiers” and a widening of separatist unrest, Merkel told reporters in Berlin today. “We’ve made it clear again and again, already in March, that further sanctions will have to be discussed if there’s further escalation.”

A week after she met Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev, Merkel and other leaders of the 28 EU governments gather for a summit in Brussels on Aug. 30. “We’ll have to ask ourselves how we should react to this,” she said.

Poroshenko pledged today to step up the country’s defenses against what he called a “de facto” Russian incursion after separatists gained ground in intensified fighting. Fighting in Ukraine’s easternmost regions, which the United Nations says has claimed more than 2,000 lives in the past five months, is expanding both in terms of numbers and area.

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