Discussion of additional sanctions comes as the EU is widely expected to renew trade and personal sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine when they expire toward the end of the month. Both the U.S. and EU have linked the lifting of sanctions to implementation of a peace accord hammered out in February by Russia with the leaders of Ukraine, France and Germany in the capital of Belarus.
No decisions have been made yet to put additional measures in place. The point at which Russian military moves would prompt new sanctions is a case of "you know it when you see it.
"It could be any major assault anywhere across the line of contact. We all know what we are talking about, and we want to be prepared and have stuff ready to go in case we need it. "There is a whole range of different options leaders will have available to respond to any renewed Russian aggression, to which we could respond pretty quickly and vigorously. We are not talking about weeks," a senior U.S. administration official said.
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The European parliament passed a resolution calling on EU governments to keep the measures in place after Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Italy Wednesday in what many in the West saw as a bid to break European solidarity on the sanctions.
On Thursday, a European diplomat noted that this week's violence strengthened European resolve to maintain the current measures. "The concerns that we all began to feel about additional violations and suggestions there were troops and equipment coming across the border from Russia... all that in fact was quite useful in getting European nations collectively to grasp that now is not the time to start softening the position we are taking on sanctions," the European diplomat said.