March 6 - As the EU condemns Russian acts in Crimea, it takes minor steps by suspending talks with Moscow on visas, but warns of more to come if Russia does not back down. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
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German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Brussels Thursday for EU talks on Ukraine.
As she heads into the meetings, she signals that sanctions may be on the table.
(SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING:
"We have to say that we can't just get back to business as usual, in particular not without resuming any diplomatic talks. So, we will also talk about sanctions, whether they will enter into force or not we will decide based on how far diplomatic efforts proceed
EU leaders sat down as Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia Thursday. It set a referendum on the decision in 10 days' time in a dramatic escalation of the crisis in Crimea.
The EU condemned Russian actions in Crimea as illegal and voiced support for Ukraine's territorial integrity. But the leaders took only minor steps suspending talks with Moscow on visas and a new investment pact.
But if Russia does not back down, European Council President Herman Van Rumpuy says tougher action could come.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT, HERMAN VAN ROMPUY, SAYING:
"Any further steps by the Russian federation to destabilize the situation in Ukraine would lead to severe and far-reaching consequences for relations between the European Union and its member states on the one hand and the Russian Federation on the other hand, which will include a broad range of economic areas."
The EU is in a difficult situation. While many member states would like to impose tough sanctions on Russia, they also have reservations because of the high dependency many have on Russian oil and gas.
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