Crisis in Ukraine
The European Union agreed Monday to ramp up its economic sanctions on Russia, but at the behest of member countries already hit by the current sanctions, the EU delayed implementing the measures for a few days. Ukraine, Russia, and pro-Moscow separatists agreed to a cease-fire on Friday, and there were sporadic bursts of fighting reported Monday. Five Ukrainian troops have been killed in the past four days, Ukraine's military said on Tuesday, and the separatists have so far handed over 648 prisoners-of-war.
Europe is increasingly wary of Russia's designs regarding its smaller neighbor, and "the sanctions aim at promoting a change of course in Russia's actions destabilizing eastern Ukraine," says European Council president Herman Van Rompuy. The grace period "will leave time for an assessment of the implementation of the cease-fire agreement and the peace plan."
The new sanctions target Russia's energy sector, including state-run Rosneft, Gazprom, and pipeline operator Transneft. Russia is threatening retaliatory measures, including barring European airlines from flying over Russian airspace en route to Asia.