EU formally adopts new sanctions against Russia
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Council on Monday formally adopted a package of further sanctions against Russia over its actions in eastern Ukraine, but is delaying the enforcement to assess the implementation of the cease-fire agreement first.
The sanctions will be implemented "in the next few days," the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said in a statement.
He said the delay of the execution of the sanctions would leave time for "an assessment of the implementation of the cease-fire agreement and the peace plan."
"Depending on the situation on the ground, the EU stands ready to review the agreed sanctions in whole or in part," Van Rompuy said.
Ukraine, Russia and the Kremlin-backed separatists agreed Friday to an immediate cease-fire and an exchange of prisoners. While the truce appeared to hold on Monday, the agreement appeared fragile over the weekend when occasional fighting occurred.
The EU sanctions are expected to be coordinated with a new round of U.S. sanctions, a Western diplomat said. The U.S. sanctions are ready for release, the diplomat said, but the Obama administration wants to wait to act in concert with Europe in order to maximize the impact of the sanctions and present a united front against Russia.
President Barack Obama and some European leaders have said that given their skepticism about the cease-fire, it was imperative to press forward with sanctions now. But they have said the penalties could be lifted if tensions between Ukraine and Russia ease.
The new round of Western sanctions are expected to deepen earlier penalties targeting Russia's energy and arms sectors. The penalties are also expected to tighten access to international loans, with the current ban on credits and loans of more than 90 days reduced to 30 days.
More individuals, including Russian government officials and people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, are also expected to be sanctioned, according to the diplomat, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the details of the sanctions before they were formally announced.
Associated Press writer Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.