French people

Germany suspends approval of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline over Ukraine

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s extraordinary speech on Monday evening, discussions in Europe have turned to whether or not the European Union will maintain its hardline stance on yet to be made public sanctions.

The EU’s position is important because, so far, the West’s position in this crisis has been strongly coordinated.

NATO led the military and political set-up while the EU, the world’s largest economic union, proposed a set of sanctions that would severely damage Russia’s economy, Putin’s associates and undermine the grip of Moscow on the Russian sphere of influence.

A NATO official told CNN last week that without the EU sanctions proposals, “the Western response would undoubtedly have been much weaker.”

But fears emerged late Monday that the EU would come up with a less severe package to keep diplomatic options open and defuse.

Putin’s decision to send troops to two pro-Moscow breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine and recognize them as independent has put the West in a very difficult position as it determines whether what happened whether or not Monday counts as a total invasion or not.

Top EU diplomat says as early as Tuesday morning it is believed the West needs to take tough action on Putin for his most recent actions, but keep the option open to go further if Putin escalates again .

“They are considering a sanctions package that still falls under the 2014 sanctions package,” after Russia annexed Crimea, the diplomat explained.

They said this was all being done in full coordination with the US and UK, but “keeping a lot of sticks in our back pocket makes sense”.

The diplomat added that “the package presented today must be heavy enough to really hurt but keep the package with massive consequences and costs available if it escalates.”

However, they admitted that we are unlikely to see the new maximum damages sanctions package in response to Putin’s latest assault.

The UK is also expected to introduce a sanctions package today and has publicly taken a very tough line against Putin.

Obviously, things are fluid and subject to change, not least because no one knows what Putin’s next move will be. However, the Russian president’s surprise move on Monday put the Western alliance in a difficult position of not knowing how far to go in response.