EU leaders are to due to hold an emergency summit today, March 6, to decide on a response to Russia's troop deployment in Ukraine's Crimea region, after talks on the sidelines of a conference in Paris between the foreign ministers of Russia, the US, UK, Germany and France yielded no concrete results.
US Secretary of State John Kerry described his Paris meeting on March 5 with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov over Ukraine as "tough", according to newswires, but promised to continue talking to find a way to de-escalate tensions.
A tense standoff continues across the southern Ukrainian peninsula, where Ukrainian troops remain blockaded in their bases by pro-Russian militia and supporters, who are backed by soldiers without insignia, believed to be Russians from the Black Sea bases located there. They also appear to be digging in, with reports of trenches being made around strategic areas of Sevastopol, the capital of Crimea. Unrest is also spreading to pro-Russian regions of eastern Ukraine proper; there were clashes between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian protesters in the eastern city of Donetsk, with a number of people reported injured.
Kerry stressed afterwards that Russia's violation of Ukrainian sovereignty "would not go unanswered", according to the BBC.
The Brussels summit will likely see a divergence in views on how to deal with Russia's de-facto takeover of the Ukrainian region. Some members, particularly from the eastern part of the bloc like Poland, will be pressing for tough economic sanctions. But others - led by Germany and the UK - appear warier of applying sanctions other than symbolic ones and are looking for a more diplomatic way out of the crisis.
Having said that, the EU on March 6 revealed the names of those in the circle of ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych's circle upon whom it will place an assets freeze. Those it accuses of being responsible for massive embezzlement of state fund include Yanukovych and his family, as well as close aides including the former prime minister, interior minister, justice minister, the prosecutor general and the head of the security services.
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