The European Commission prepared a new batch of sanctions against Russia on Saturday (30 August) warning that the worsening situation in Ukraine is putting all Europeans at risk of war. The call for tougher sanctions comes directly from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who said that Kiev and Moscow were on the verge of a “full-scale war”. He added that his country became a victim of “foreign military aggression and terror” and alleged that hundreds of tanks and thousands of Russian troops were on the Ukrainian territory. “Today we are talking about the fate of Ukraine, tomorrow it could be for all Europe,” he warned.
Fears of a more serious military confrontation intensified after rumours that Russia sent troops to help fight a new offensive by pro-Russian insurgents combating in a number of south-eastern Ukrainian towns against Kiev’s forces. EU Commission chief, Jose Manuel Barroso, described the current situation as a “point of no return” promising that the EU would impose new sanctions against the Kremlin. The Saturday appointment of Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk to become the next European Council President is also perceived by many as another riposte to Russia as Mr Tusk is among the most vocal critics of the Kremlin.
Except for Poland’s Donald Tusk, the leaders of the Baltic nations also grow wary of Russians on their borders. Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite pointed out that “Russia is at war against Ukraine and that is against a country which wants to be part of Europe” adding that “Russia is practically in a state of war against Europe.” French President Francois Hollande ensured that the EU would undoubtedly intensify sanctions while Britain’s David Cameron reminded that the lessons of history demanded actions. A fresh wave of sanctions should focus on extending current prohibitions in financial services, military technology and armaments as well as energy and dual-use products. According to NATO, Russia has massed about 20,000 troops near the Ukrainian border.