Ukrainian crisis tops EU foreign ministers’ agenda

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The imminent Russian threat against Ukraine will be at the top of the agenda in a gathering of EU foreign ministers on Monday in Brussels.

The EU top diplomats will assess the security situation in Ukraine and discuss how the bloc should respond to Moscow’s actions.

At the beginning of the meeting, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will join his EU counterparts to inform them on the situation and coordinate their response.

The EU has prepared “hard-hitting” and “substantial sanctions” that “are intended to weaken the Russian economy” in case Moscow decides to use aggression against Ukraine, a senior EU official, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said ahead of the ministerial meeting.

The source confirmed that the bloc developed the sanctions package in cooperation with “like-minded countries” to take similar action and “reinforce each other.”

The official explained that sanctions would be adopted “within days, not weeks” if Russia invades Ukraine and pointed out that the restrictive measures would imply Belarus as well if the country participates in the attack.

Underlining that the EU would “stick to” its strategy of showing Russia it would “pay a high price for any action against European security,” the expert said that at the same time, the bloc would maintain its offer of dialogue.

The ministers will also discuss the current political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina, driven by separatist actions by Republika Srpska, and possible sanctions against leaders seen as responsible for dividing the country.

The bloc sees these separatist moves as “unacceptable,” the EU official said.

Another agenda item at the meeting will be the bloc’s ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and will include a working luncheon with GCC foreign ministers to exchange views on energy, trade, and maritime security.

They will also discuss the state of negotiations in Vienna to bring Washington and Tehran back to the Iran nuclear deal.

According to the EU official, the talks are “really very much in the latest stage” and “most of the issues are agreed.”

However, the source warned that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” and said it was impossible to say whether the partners would strike a final agreement in the next few days.

In addition, EU foreign ministers will discuss other current affairs, including the security situation in Mali and will hold an exercise modeling their response to an eventual large-scale cyber-attack against the bloc.

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