Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany supports tighter EU sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea. This came ahead of an EU summit in Brussels to discuss the bloc's collective response.
Chancellor Merkel used her speech to the Bundestag on Thursday to tell lawmakers that her government supported plans to step up sanctions on Moscow as a result of the Kremlin’s continuing moves to absorb the Ukrainian autonomous territory of Crimea into the Russian Federation.
"At the European Council beginning today, the heads of state and government of the European Union will fix further phase-two sanctions that we agreed two weeks ago," Merkel said.
"These include an extension of the list of responsible people against whom travel restrictions and account freezes are in effect," she added.
The chancellor also warned that tighter sanctions could follow.
"The European Council will make it clear today and tomorrow that with a further deterioration of the situation we are always prepared to take phase-three measures, and those will without a doubt include economic sanctions," she said.
G8 effectively dead
Merkel also said that as a result of the Kremlin’s move to annex Crimea, Russia had effectively disqualified itself from the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations, the G8. The G8, she said, was effectively dead and would remain as such, as long as the diplomatic row over Crimea continued.
The chancellor also called into question the immediate future of the annual German-Russian consultations, just weeks ahead of this year’s scheduled talks.
"The federal government will have to decide how and if the German-Russian consultations will be held next month - or not," she said.
Later on Thursday, Chancellor Merkel was to travel to Brussels to join the EU’s other 27 heads of state and government to discuss the Crimea crisis.
The 28-member bloc has already imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on 21 individuals from both Russia and Ukraine seen as playing key roles in Russia’s takeover of Crimea. It has also suspended talks on easing visa regulations for Russian travelers to the EU.
pfd/kms (AFP, dpa)