West Eyes More Sanctions: EU leaders mull new sanctions against Russia over Syria "atrocities"
Politics15:19 Oct. 20, 2016
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EU leaders mull new sanctions against Russia over Syria "atrocities"

Bloc's future ties with Russia and the war in Syria will be discussed at this week's summit in Brussels

EU leaders may blacklist more Russians if "atrocities" in Syria continue, according to a draft of the EU summit conclusions.

"The EU is considering all options, including further restrictive measures targeting individuals and entities supporting the regime, should the current atrocities continue," says a draft communiqué for the EU summit beginning on Thursday afternoon in Brussels.

The draft communiqué says EU leaders strongly condemn attacks by the Syrian regime and its allies - "notably Russia" – on civilians in Aleppo.

It calls for "immediate cessation of hostilities" and "unhindered humanitarian access".

The threat to introduce new penalties comes after French and German leaders, at a meeting in Berlin on Wednesday, failed to persuade Russian president Vladimir Putin to stop air strikes against civilians in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Moscow and the Syrian regime have allowed "humanitarian pause" in their military campaign today, a move as a cynical gesture in many EU member states as it coincides with the Brussels summit.

At the same time, western officials believe Russian warships sailing past the Norwegian coast are preparing for a final assault on Aleppo in a fortnight, when they arrive in the Mediterranean.

The EU has already blacklisted some 150 Russians and imposed economic sanctions over the Ukraine conflict.

One of those Russians, Kremlin aide Vladimir Surkov, was by Putin's side in Berlin because EU sanctions allow to make exceptions for multilateral meetings.

Based on reporting by EUObserver, Financial Times

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