European relations with Moscow, which went into a tailspin over Ukraine in 2014, are deteriorating anew as Russian bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo sweeps aside moves to ease tensions, according to The Wall Street Journal.
As European Union governments prepared to discuss next week how to step up their response to the Syrian bloodshed, Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out Wednesday, accusing the U.S. and Europe of unfairly blaming Moscow for the breakdown of a Syrian cease-fire, WSJ wrote.
He spoke following calls in Berlin and other leading capitals for increased EU sanctions on Russia.
While there has been no formal order in Washington or Brussels to draw up a list of Russian officials to sanction for supporting the Syrian government, U.S. and European officials have quietly begun looking at what such sanctions might look like, according to diplomats.
A senior EU diplomat said not to expect any sanctions decision at next Monday`s regular meeting of EU foreign ministers. But if the bombing of Aleppo continues or the situation there further deteriorates, the diplomat said stepped-up sanctions would be ”a serious consideration.”
EU diplomats say the most likely initial focus of new sanctions would be adding a number of Russian officials to the sweeping sanctions list the EU has already implemented against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some capitals want to make that move when EU leaders meet next week, diplomats say. In addition to an oil embargo and financial, technology and economic sanctions, the bloc already targets more than 200 people and 70 entities linked to the Assad regime. EU foreign ministers are likely to add more Syrian names to that list when they meet Monday.
In a draft set of conclusions for Monday`s foreign ministers` meeting, the EU condemned the Assad ”regime and its allies” for attacks on civilians, officials said. They added that while the statement would likely be toughened before then, the current draft doesn`t explicitly call out Russia.
Russia`s EU ambassador warned that Moscow would respond if the bloc ratchets up sanctions against his country.