(Re-leads with Cameron, adds quotes, writes through)
By Kylie MacLellan and William James
LONDON, July 21 The European Union should impose
harder-hitting sanctions on Russia after the downing of a
Malaysian airliner in Ukraine, British Prime Minister David
Cameron said on Monday, advocating an EU ban on future sales of
military equipment to Moscow.
The 28-nation EU has been under pressure from the United
States and Ukraine to take a harder line on Russia, but some EU
governments are wary of potential retaliation from Moscow, the
bloc's biggest energy supplier.
Speaking in parliament before a meeting of EU foreign
ministers on Tuesday, Cameron said Europe should impose harsher
sanctions on Russia unless there was a "radical" change in its
behaviour towards Ukraine following the downing of MH17 last
week with the loss of 298 lives.
"It is time to make our power, influence and resources
felt," Cameron said, arguing the time had come to move on to
so-called "tier three" sanctions, a set of tougher measures that
would target specific sectors of the Russian economy.
"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
neighbours," said Cameron.
Future steps could include freezing the assets of some of
Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest allies, Cameron said,
referring to them as "cronies and oligarchs".
He said the weight of evidence increasingly indicated that
the Malaysian Airlines plane had been shot down by an SA-11
missile fired by pro-Russian separatists and called on Putin to
halt the flow of weapons and troops to Ukraine.
He also called for EU countries to stop selling defence
equipment to Russia and questioned France's plan to sell Mistral
helicopter carriers to Moscow. Fulfilling such an order would be
unthinkable in Britain, he said.
"We need to put the pressure on with all our partners to say
that we cannot go on doing business as usual with a country when
it is behaving in this way," said Cameron.
France has previously said it will press ahead with the deal
despite unease about the transaction from the United States.
Britain, Germany and France agreed on Sunday they should be
ready to ratchet up sanctions on Russia when European foreign
ministers meet in Brussels on Tuesday.
However, EU diplomats have said Tuesday's meeting in
Brussels is not expected to go much further than speeding up the
imposition of already agreed "tier two" sanctions which target
Earlier on Monday, finance minister George Osborne said
Britain was prepared to take an economic hit from imposing
further sanctions against Russia because the costs of not acting
would be greater.
"Think of the economic hit ... of allowing international
borders to be ignored, of allowing airlines to be shot down -
that's a much greater economic hit for Britain and we're not
prepared to allow that to happen," Osborne told BBC Radio.
(Additional reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Andrew Heavens
and Andrew Osborn)