Berlin and Paris rebuff fresh calls for tougher sanctions on Russia – report

Berlin and Paris rebuff fresh calls for tougher sanctions on Russia – report German and French diplomats are against hitting Moscow with a new round of sanctions following a maritime clash with Ukraine, and instead want to improve trust between the nations, a media report suggests.

High-ranking diplomats from France and Germany favor tackling the renewed Russian-Ukrainian tensions with more “trust-building measures,” German paper Die Welt on Wednesday.

The paper, citing its own sources, wrote that additional sanctions weren’t included in the diplomats’ proposal. Instead, they reportedly offered to “continue diplomatic efforts” to solve the crisis and to consider the role of the OSCE in resolving the conflict.

According to Die Welt, this approach was voiced by Berlin and Paris on Tuesday during a “secret meeting” of the EU’s Political and Security Committee in Brussels.

Earlier, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas asked Russia and Ukraine to seek de-escalation and exhibit “maximum restraint” in order to avert a larger crisis.

On Sunday, the Russian Coast Guard seized three Ukrainian naval vessels as they tried to pass through the Kerch Strait. Three Ukrainian sailors were wounded when a Russian warship opened fire at a Ukrainian gunboat after it failed to stop.

Moscow accused Ukraine of provocations and violating its sovereignty.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, meanwhile, blasted Russia for “unprovoked use of weapons” against the ships, and called on the EU to impose tougher sanctions. His call was supported by Poland and Lithuania.

Speaking to The Washington Post, US President Donald Trump said that pending a “full report” on the incident he might call off the talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which kicks off on Friday.

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