EU to Impose New Sanctions on Russia as Conflict in Ukraine Nears 'Point of No Return'
The European Union appears ready to impose new sanctions against Russia this weekend after accusations that Russia has increased its military intervention in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Dominic Di-Natale joined Leland Vittert today on America's News Headquarters and reported that NATO estimates at least 1,000 Russian soldiers are in Ukraine even though Russia denies any military involvement.
He added that European leaders have absolutely no appetite to see a military conflict in Europe and are currently meeting to determine what sanctions could stop Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose defiance makes a diplomatic, peaceful resolution more difficult.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who briefed a summit of the 28-nation EU's leaders in Brussels, said a strong response was needed to the "military aggression and terror" facing his country.
"Thousands of the foreign troops and hundreds of the foreign tanks are now on the territory of Ukraine," Poroshenko told reporters in English. "There is a very high risk not only for peace and stability for Ukraine, but for the whole peace and stability of Europe."
British Prime Minister David Cameron also warned that Europe can't be complacent about Russian troops on Ukrainian soil.
"Countries in Europe shouldn't have to think long before realizing just how unacceptable that is," he said. "We know that from our history. So consequences must follow."
Conceding ground in the face of a reinvigorated rebel offensive, Ukraine said Saturday that it was abandoning a city where its forces have been surrounded by rebels for days. Government forces were also pulling back from another it had claimed to have taken control of two weeks earlier.
The statements by Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the national security council, indicate that Ukrainian forces face increasingly strong resistance from Russian-backed separatist rebels just weeks after racking up significant gains and forcing rebels out of much of the territory they had held.
Poroshenko, meanwhile, said Ukraine would welcome an EU decision to help with military equipment and further intelligence-sharing.
In Brussels, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said "sanctions are not an end in themselves," but a means to dissuade Russia from further destabilizing Ukraine.
"We may see a situation where we reach the point of no return," Barroso warned. "If the escalation of the conflict continues, this point of no return can come."
The U.S. and the EU have so far imposed sanctions against dozens of Russian officials, several companies and the country's financial industry. Moscow has retaliated by banning food imports.
Grybauskaite said the EU should impose a full arms embargo, including the canceling of already agreed contracts. France has so far staunchly opposed that proposal because it has a $1.6 billion contract to build Mistral helicopter carriers for Russia.
New EU sanctions have to be agreed unanimously -- a requirement that has in the past blocked or softened decisions since some nations fear the economic fallout. Russia is the EU's No. 3 trading partner and one of its biggest oil and gas suppliers.
Barroso said that the EU -- a bloc encompassing 500 million people and stretching from Lisbon to the border with Ukraine -- stands ready to grant Kiev further financial assistance if needed. The bloc will also organize a donors' conference to help rebuild the country's east at the end of the year, he added.
Watch the clip from America's News Headquarters above.