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EU leaders are expected to extend existing sanctions on Russia

Several senior European politicians on Tuesday raised the possibility of new sanctions against Russia to punish it for capturing three Ukrainian vessels at sea, an incident the West fears could ignite a wider conflict. A Russian minister said further sanctions would solve nothing and that the incident should not be used to derail the Minsk accord, which aims to end fighting in eastern Ukraine between Kiev’s forces and pro-Russian separatist rebels.

Russian assets have come under pressure on financial markets amid concerns that possible new sanctions could hurt the economy, though the rouble on Tuesday clawed back some earlier losses as investors bet any sanctions would not be swift. Russia opened fire on the Ukrainian boats and then seized them and their crews on Sunday near Crimea – which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Moscow and Kiev have tried to pin the blame on each other for the incident.

President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel by phone on Monday that Moscow was ready to provide more details to bolster its version of events. Moscow says Kiev deliberately provoked it in order to trigger a crisis. Merkel, who also spoke on Monday with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, called for de-escalation and dialogue. Senior German conservative Norbert Roettgen, a close Merkel ally, said the European Union may need to toughen its sanctions against Russia, imposed partly over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. Poland and Estonia, both hawkish on Russia, expressed support for more sanctions. EU foreign ministers are due to discuss the crisis on Dec. 10. EU leaders are expected later next month to agree to extend existing sanctions on Russia, diplomats said.

European politicians call for new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, Reuters, Nov 28
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