Lew Says U.S. Has More Tools to Put Pressure on Russia If Needed

The U.S. is prepared to step up sanctions against Russia if the Ukraine situation doesn’t improve, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said.

“We have more tools,” Lew told reporters in Brussels on Monday, without giving any details.

“Our goal here is to have a diplomatic resolution where Russia lives by the Minsk accords which it was a party to, and we see the ability to reduce sanctions,” Lew said. “We have to be prepared to do more if Russia does not take that path.”

Lew said the U.S. would work with the European Union and other international partners to calibrate measures. So far, he said the sanctions are having “maximum impact on Russia with much less impact spilling over into other parts of the world.”

EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels are slated to discuss the prospect of more financial aid for Ukraine on Tuesday. Later this week, the bloc’s foreign ministers will gather to consider next steps after a rocket attack killed dozens in the port city of Mariupol on Saturday and fighting across Ukraine intensified.

The EU will probably step up its measures linked to the conflict in Ukraine this week after a renewed assault by pro-Russian rebels, Latvia’s president said. Andris Berzins, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said in a Bloomberg interview Monday that the 28-member bloc will add more individuals to a list of those facing visa bans and asset freezes.

Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission’s vice president for the euro, said international coordination on sanctions remains necessary.

“It’s clear we see the sanctions are working in terms of economy,” Dombrovskis said at a press conference with Lew. “The escalation of conflict we are facing shows that we must keep up this pressure and must work also with Russia so that it also respects its commitments and stops supporting terrorists and stops its involvement in Ukraine’s conflict.”

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