EU defines new sanctions policy on Russia
European Union leaders faced resistance from Italy to impose new sanctions against Moscow.
The debate over threatening additional sanctions came during dinner at the EU’s autumn summit, a day after French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Berlin with Vladimir Putin and President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine to push for implementation of the Minsk 2 peace accord.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, whose country has broad trade ties with Russia, said economic sanctions should not be part of that strategy because they would not force Moscow to negotiate a peace settlement.
"We should do everything possible for a peace deal in Syria but it's difficult to imagine that this should be linked to further sanctions on Russia," Renzi told reporters after a late-night dinner in Brussels where the bloc discussed strategy.
France has sought to isolate Russia diplomatically, first at the United Nations Security Council in New York with a failed bid to force a ceasefire and then with a formal condemnation by all 28 EU foreign ministers this week of Russia's strikes in rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
European leaders followed up with equally strong language in their summit statement in the early hours of Friday. But the final version removed wording seen by Reuters in earlier drafts threatening sanctions on Russian individuals and companies linked to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.