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EU preparing new Russia sanctions, but no decision yet

The European Union is preparing new sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine but no decision has been taken yet, EU diplomats told AFP on Tuesday.

BRUSSELS: The European Union is preparing new sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine but no decision has been taken yet, EU diplomats told AFP on Tuesday.

Ambassadors from the 28-nation bloc met in Brussels and decided that "the preparation of sanctions will be intensified" ahead of an extraordinary meeting next Monday, said a diplomat who asked not to be named.

EU leaders on Friday gave Russia three days to change policy on Ukraine or face the prospect of tougher sanctions.

The diplomat said no decision however was taken by the ambassadors Tuesday as the situation remained extremely "fluid" and "a mixed picture".

"The ambassadors will reconvene on Monday," the source added.

"Experts were asked to prepare further sanctions," said a second diplomat close to the matter.

Asked whether the 28 European nations might consider beefing up sanctions to target entire economic sectors, known as "Phase 3" sanctions, the source said EU experts were still working on Phase 2 sanctions targeting specific people or companies.

"But the sanctions could be extended quantitatively and qualitatively," the source said.

At a summit in Brussels on Friday, EU leaders had said Moscow had to take four steps, among them clear backing for the Ukraine government's peace plan, by June 30.

Among the other conditions listed by the EU leaders were that Russia agree a verification mechanism, monitored by the OSCE, on a now broken Kiev ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities should also be allowed to resume control of three border checkpoints held by rebels, while "hostages including all of the OSCE observers," should be released.

The EU has so far imposed visa bans and asset freezes on more than 60 Russia and Ukraine figures for their role in stoking the crisis but have so far baulked at outright sanctions on economic sectors despite strong pressure from Washington.

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