TALLINN, June 21 Baltic leaders said on Saturday
they would back further sanctions against Russia at a European
Union summit next week unless there was a de-escalation in
eastern Ukraine where Kiev is trying to quell a pro-Russian
Hours after the start of a ceasefire on Friday, separatists
attacked Ukrainian posts on the border with Russia and a
military base, and tried to storm an airforce base, Ukrainain
security forces said.
Earlier on Friday, the leaders of the United States, France
and Germany agreed Russia risks new sanctions if it fails to
take immediate steps to defuse tensions on the Ukraine border.
Leaders of EU's member states may discuss the issue at a
summit in Brussels next week.
Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - which all broke away from
the Soviet Union in 1990-1991 - had already called for tougher
EU sanctions against Moscow after its annexation of Crimea.
"If there will be no de-escalation of the situation then
Latvia will support a third bloc of sanctions," Latvian Prime
Minister Laimdota Straujuma told a news conference after meeting
with her Baltic counterparts and European Commission President
Jose Manuel Barroso in the Estonian capital.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said his
position was the same, while their Estonian counterpart, Taavi
Roivas, said that if there was no de-escalation in Ukraine,
further sanctions would be the EU's only choice.
So far, the EU has imposed limited measures - asset freezes
and travel bans on people and companies in Russia and Ukraine -
and has mulled steps against Russia including restrictions
ranging from luxury goods imports to an oil and gas ban. There
has been no consensus on how to proceed.
States with close trade and energy ties with Russia, such as
Italy, Greece and Germany, worry about the potential impact on
their economies of stricter sanctions while others, such as
Cyprus and Austria, have close financial links.
Concerns over Europe's gas supplies are a major
consideration in the decision around sanctions as EU consumers
get about a third of their gas needs from Russia, around half of
it through pipelines that cross Ukraine.
Barroso at the news conference urged EU member states to
reach a common stance on the issue of further sanctions.
"I am pleading for a common position of the member states,"
(Reporting by David Mardiste; Writing by Anna Ringstrom;
Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)