Date
19 October 2017
People pay tribute in Kiev to the victims of MH17 that was brought down in eastern Ukraine on July 17. Photo: Reuters
People pay tribute in Kiev to the victims of MH17 that was brought down in eastern Ukraine on July 17. Photo: Reuters

Europe under pressure to toughen Russia sanctions

European nations will face heavy pressure to impose tougher sanctions on Russia as foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the attack on the Malaysian jetliner last week. 

A UK-led group of hardliners is insisting that the downing of MH17, blamed on Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, has changed the calculus for the European Union’s relationship with Moscow, Financial Times reported.

On Monday night, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for unrestricted access for investigators to the crash site. It called for an international probe into the MH17 attack and an end to all military activity around the site.

The resolution spelt out the world’s demand for an end to the “inexcusable” treatment of the victims by insurgents controlling the area whose behavior had been “sickening and appalling beyond belief”, said Mark Lyall Grant, the UK’s ambassador to the UN.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told his parliament on Monday that “it is time to make our power, influence and resources felt … Russia cannot expect to continue enjoying access to European markets, European capital, European knowledge and technical expertise while she fuels conflict in one of Europe’s neighbors.”

The ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday cannot approve “phase three” sanctions – a move targeting entire sectors of the Russian economy that must first be backed by EU heads of government. But the UK-led group, including central and eastern European countries, wants to lay the groundwork for such an escalation, the report said.

Some countries, including France, are however resisting a tougher approach, and there are concerns the debate could split the EU.

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