With Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists on the offensive ever since Ukrainian security forces gave up the symbolically important Donetsk airport late last week, Western leaders are scrambling to figure out how to apply additional pressure on the Kremlin. An attack on the strategically significant city of Mariupol on Saturday that left some 30 people dead and many more injured has startled a European policy elite that just ten days ago was debating lifting sanctions on Russia.Speaking from India on Sunday, President Obama strongly condemned the attack and signaled that he was ready to impose the next round of sanctions on Moscow. But as the FT reports, it’s not clear that Europe is ready to follow suit:
According to EU diplomats, capitals were divided over whether to pursue more sanctions. Federica Mogherini, the high representative, has called an emergency meeting of foreign ministers for Thursday.Some diplomats had balked at the idea of convening an earlier meeting for fear it would result in little more than a further condemnation of the Mariupol attack. “To call it just to adopt another statement makes no sense,” said a Polish diplomat.
European leaders have been here before: squabbling over next steps but ultimately reaching a consensus for getting tougher when faced with yet more proof that the Kremlin is not interested in the off-ramps they have offered. But with a showdown with the Greeks looming, and with the new EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini more dovish on Russia than her predecessor, consensus may be even harder to come by than usual.