EU foreign ministers met in Brussels on Tuesday with the view to hitting Russia with further sanctions later for its support of separatist rebels in Ukraine.
The meeting of the EU’s top diplomats in Brussels comes after the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which has been blamed on the rebels.
Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said: “We can’t do ‘business as usual’! it’s not anymore about economy and trade – it’s about security and it’s about the geostrategic position of Europe and it’s about justice for almost 200 Dutch people who were killed in a cruel manner.”
Today’s sanctions are expected to strike closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
Some companies may also be included.
But foreign ministers don’t have the authority to agree sector-wide economic measures against Moscow.
Euronews correspondent James Franey reports that only EU leaders can agree sector-wide economic sanctions against Russia.
They will meet again in Brussels on August 30, our correspondent adds, with any fresh measures requiring the agreement of all 28 member states.
France is worried that such a step could put a €1.2-billion-euro contract to sell two Mistral-class helicopter assault ships to the Russian government under threat.
Paris prefers to target individuals and companies rather than entire economic sectors.