EU mulls more sanctions on Russia, denies early Ukraine membership


European Union flags fly in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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VERSAILLES, France, March 11 (Reuters) – The European Union is ready to impose even tougher economic sanctions on Russia and may give Ukraine more funds to buy weapons to fight the invasion of Moscow, the leaders decided in two days of talks in France, but drew a line under allowing Kiev rapid access to the bloc.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that has sought to join the EU and NATO, has called for accelerated EU membership since the February 24 invasion.

“I understand very well that, when you fight bravely as Ukraine does, you would want much more. But we are not a party to this conflict,” French President Emmanuel Macron told a press conference. .

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said it was “fair” to hand over Ukraine’s membership application, along with those of Moldova and Georgia, to the bloc’s executive European Commission for detailed legal analysis.

Ukraine’s allies in Eastern Europe were disappointed.

“I want Ukraine to get candidate status now…it was not possible today, but we will come back to this issue,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said.

EU countries must unanimously agree to welcome a new member and membership usually takes years of complex negotiations, as well as requiring applicants to meet strict criteria ranging from economic stability to the eradication of corruption and respect for human rights.

The bloc’s diplomacy chief, Josep Borrell, said the EU could offer Ukraine an additional 500 million euros ($550 million) to buy weapons. The bloc has also promised to help rebuild the country of 44 million people once the war is over.

PUNISHMENTS

The EU has also threatened new sanctions against Moscow.

“Nothing is on the table, nothing is taboo, we will do whatever we deem necessary to stop Russia,” Macron said after talks at the Palace of Versailles near Paris.

Scholz confirmed: “We have agreed to continue pushing forward these sanctions which have an immediate effect on Russia’s chances of economic development.”

Like EU enlargement, sanctions require the unanimity of all member countries. The 27 members have yet to find common ground on how far to go to cut trade relations with Russia.

Then the West restricted Russia’s rights in the World Trade Organization.

The leaders also looked inward to discuss ways to reduce their economic exposure to Moscow. They have decided to reduce Russian energy imports by 2027, spend more on defense and increase their own food production. find out more ($1 = 0.9137 euros)

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Reporting by Leigh Thomas, Marine Strauss, Michel Rose, Philip Blenkinsop, Elizabeth Pineau, Sabine Siebold, Andreas Rinke, Bart Meijer, Benoit van Overstraeten Writing by Gabriela Baczynska Editing by Frances Kerry

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