BERLIN, July 29 The European Union's decision to impose broad sanctions against Russia was "unavoidable" after its actions in Ukraine and it is now up to Moscow to make the next move, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.
Earlier, the EU agreed for the first time to impose sanctions against Russian oil companies, banks and defence firms, by far the strongest international action yet over Moscow's support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.
"The decision today was thus unavoidable," Merkel said in a statement, adding that EU leaders had repeatedly warned Moscow that the annexation of Crimea and continued destabilisation of east Ukraine were not acceptable.
"It is now up to the leadership in Russia to decide whether they want to go the way of de-escalation and cooperation," Merkel said. "The EU sanctions can be reviewed but further steps are also possible." (Reporting by Gareth Jones; writing by Erik Kirschbaum)