European Union governments decided Tuesday they would not immediately impose new sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine because of a lack of clarity of events on the ground as fighting broke out in the east of the country.
Senior EU diplomats met in Brussels on Tuesday morning to consider whether new measures were needed after a summit of EU leaders on Friday warned Moscow that further sanctions were on the cards if peace talks did not produce results.
So far, the EU has imposed measures targeting around 60 people in Russia and Ukraine with asset freezes and travel bans, as well as two energy companies in Crimea, to punish Moscow for taking over the Ukrainian peninsula earlier this year.
"(They) decided they will monitor the situation," one EU diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The picture on the ground is mixed. In the meantime, there are intensified preparations for sanctions."
Two other diplomats confirmed that the EU would not impose new measures right away, but they did not rule out that the sanctions list could be extended in coming days.
EU committees will work on drawing up potential additions to the sanctions list later this week.
"The situation (in Ukraine) is very unclear, that's why we prepare sanctions," one said.
Ukrainian government forces launched air strikes and artillery assaults on pro-Russian separatists in eastern regions on Tuesday, a military spokesman said, after President Petro Poroshenko announced he would not renew a ceasefire.
Diplomats said last week that if the ceasefire did not hold and lead to a deescalation of the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Kiev authorities in eastern Ukraine, the EU would consider expanding its sanctions list.
They also hinted at the possibility of more far-reaching economic measures, although those could only be decided by heads of EU states and governments who meet again later in July.
The EU has been slow to impose sanctions on Moscow, with several of the bloc's 28 governments wary of antagonizing their major energy supplier.
During weeks of talks on the issue, Brussels officials have drawn up lists of possible sanctions targets and diplomats say it would be easy to extend the existing list of names once a decision is reached.
Ambassadors of EU governments could meet again in the coming days for discussions on the same topic.
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