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Ukraine crisis: EU may sanction Russia

The European Union will consider sanctions against Russia if there is no deescalation in the Ukraine crisis, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday.

Possible sanctions will be on the agenda when EU leaders meet Thursday, he said via Twitter.

“The invasion of one country into another is contrary to all international laws. We must return to dialogue and to bear in mind that Ukraine should work with Russia and the EU,” he said.

“We cannot accept, we members of the international community, a country that invades another.”

Russian forces remain in effective control of Ukraine’s southern Crimea region, in a tense standoff with Ukrainian forces loyal to the new interim government in Kiev.

Meanwhile, Russian lawmakers are working on a draft law to allow the confiscation of assets belonging to European or U.S. companies if sanctions are imposed, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said Wednesday.

Andrei Klishas, a senior lawmaker in the upper parliament house, said the bill “would offer the president and government opportunities to defend our sovereignty from threats,” the news agency reported.

It comes after a day of warring words Tuesday, when a defiant Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Russian troops were in Crimea but reserved the right to take military action to protect the safety of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.

He also slammed the interim government, which replaced ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian ally, as illegitimate.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking in Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday took a similar line.

He said the crisis had begun when the international community failed to react to the anti-government protests which preceded Yanukovych’s ouster.

“There was a military coup and the legitimate president was removed by methods which were not in the constitution or legislation,” he said.

“If we are so lenient to the people who are trying to govern our neighbor everyone must realize a bad example can be spread and there shouldn’t be any double standards.”

Decisions on whether international observers should be sent into Ukraine are for leaders in the country to make, he said. He pointed out that the newly installed pro-Russian government in Crimea does not see the authorities in Kiev as legitimate.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia of making up reasons for intervention in Ukraine, saying “not a single piece of credible evidence supports any one of these claims.”

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