15:38 Nov. 17, 2016
Sources say Obama will discuss the issue with European leaders in Berlin
European leaders and President Barack Obama on Friday will discuss extending sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and possible new sanctions for its bombing in Syria, sources familiar with the plans told Reuters.
The meeting in Berlin comes a little over a week after Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election.
Trump has indicated that he will seek a rapprochement with Russia, raising doubts in Europe about the future of the sanctions regime introduced by Washington and Brussels in 2014 following Russia's intervention in eastern Ukraine.
A German official said the plan was to agree a rollover of EU sanctions against Russia, which are due to expire at the end of January, in the coming weeks.
There is concern that Trump might move in the opposite direction after his inauguration on Jan. 20.
"We're in a really critical situation," said the German official. "We have to prevent a situation where the EU rolls over the sanctions and then the new US president comes in and lifts them."
European officials fear that Russia will use the time before Trump's inauguration to launch new offensives in Syria and Ukraine.
Two diplomatic sources said the issue of Syria would also come up at the Friday meeting.