March 3, 2014 / 5:05 PM / 4 years ago

France warns Russia of 'targeted measures' if tensions persist

PARIS (Reuters) - The European Union will consider “targeted measures” against Russia if tensions do not start easing in Ukraine’s Crimea region, France’s foreign minister warned Moscow on Monday.

“If there is not in the coming hours a very quick de-escalation, then we will decide concrete measures such as the suspension of all talks on visas, suspension of economic agreements and concretely that means that ties will be cut on lot of subjects,” Laurent Fabius told BFM TV.

“There could be targeted measures and that can also affect people, officials and their assets,” he said, noting EU leaders could hold a crisis meeting on the stand-off on Thursday.

In emergency talks convened after Russian President Vladimir Putin seized the Crimean peninsula and said he had the right to invade Ukraine, EU foreign ministers met in Brussels on Monday to try to strike a balance between pressure on Moscow and finding a way to calm the situation.

Fabius said the EU wanted to see a de-escalation - meaning a return of Russian troops to their bases in Crimea - between now and Thursday.

“We all want a political solution, northing is worse than confrontation,” said Fabius, speaking from Brussels. “We are extremely worried. The general tone is that the Russians appear to have decided to go even further. Europe must be firm.”

When asked whether the EU could put sanctions on Russian individuals, including Putin, Fabius said there was a precedent last week when the EU agreed to sanction former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and officials close to him.

“Similar decisions could be taken,” Fabius said.

Reporting By John Irish; editing by Mark John

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