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EU-Russia ties at risk failing de-escalation: Ministers

Last Updated: Monday, March 3, 2014 - 23:29

Brussels: The European Union warned on Monday that EU-Russia ties were at risk if Moscow failed to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine.

"In the absence of de-escalating steps by Russia the EU shall decide about consequences for bilateral relations of EU and Russia," said a statement obtained by a news agency that was agreed by the bloc`s 28 foreign ministers at hastily-convened crisis talks on Ukraine.

The statement cited as an example talks that have long been under way with the Russian authorities on easing EU visa requirements for the country`s citizens, as well as a new cooperation agreement.
It made no mention of an arms embargo or other punitive measures suggested in the original draft statement put to the ministers, which was also seen by a news agency earlier.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the close of the talks that "if Russia does not decide credible and fast contributions for de-escalation we will have to take decisions which will concern the relations between Russia and the EU".

The statement also condemned "the clear violation of Ukraine`s sovereignty and territorial integrity".

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that failing swift and concrete measures, "a whole series of contacts will be cut".
"If there is no de-escalation before Thursday, these measures will take effect," he said, confirming that the EU is likely to call a crisis summit gathering its heads of state and government in Brussels that day.

First Published: Monday, March 3, 2014 - 23:29

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