EU Threatens Russia with Sanctions over Ukraine
BRUSSELS (AP) - The European Union is giving Russia a one-week ultimatum to scale back its intervention in Ukraine or face additional economic sanctions.
EU summit chairman Herman Van Rompuy said early Sunday that the bloc's 28 leaders tasked its executive body to "urgently undertake preparatory work for consideration within a week."
He says "everybody is fully aware that we have to act quickly."
Still, in apparent fear of an economic backlash, EU leaders shied away from immediately imposing tougher sanctions. Russia is the EU's No. 3 trading partner and one of its biggest oil and gas suppliers.
The fighting between the military and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has claimed 2,600 lives, according to U.N. figures. NATO estimates at least 1,000 Russian soldiers are in Ukraine. Russia denies that.
The United States is welcoming a decision by European Union leaders to prepare tougher economic sanctions against Russia over its apparent invasion of Ukraine.
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says the U.S. is working closely with the E.U. and other partners to hold Russia accountable for actions in Ukraine that the West deems illegal. Hayden says the E.U.'s decision shows strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Russia's aggressive behavior toward Ukraine will be a key agenda item at a NATO summit that President Barack Obama will attend next week in Wales.