EU foreign ministers call for a tougher stance against Russia as they meet to discuss their response to the Ukraine crisis and the downing of flight MH17. But, as Ciara Sutton reports, reaching a decision on what action to take means finding a consensus between member states.
A train carrying the remains of passengers and crew of Malaysian flight MH17 arrives in Kharkiv. Progress after days of confusion that ensued when the plane was apparently shot down. EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels also want to make headway. They're to accelerate sanctions decided before the incident. More action could follow. Catherine Ashton is the EU foreign policy chief. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF, CATHERING ASHTON, SAYING: "We are also ready to introduce without delay, a package of further restrictive measures if we don't see full and immediate cooperation. We have asked the Commission and the External Actions Services to present proposals for action including on access to capital markets, defense, dual-use goods, and sensitive technologies, including in the energy sector." Britain, France and Germany say they're ready to ratchet up sanctions, but by how much? London has already clashed with Paris over France's decision to press ahead with the sale of warships to Russia. France says cancelling the 1.2 billion euro deal would damage it more than Moscow. It's a difficult position, says Bill Blain is from Mint Partners. (SOUNDBITE) Bill Blain, Senior partner and Capital Markets Strategist at Mint Partners, saying: "How do they maintain their economies in difficult times, and yet run the risk of kissing away very important and large contracts with Russia. It's very easy for the UK because our share of trade with Russia is a fraction of the total European trade." The EU relies on Russia for about 30 percent of its gas supplies. Companies like Carlesberg and Adidas have a high exposure to the Russian economy. And Britain's energy major BP could face fallout because of its stake in Russian oil firm, Rosneft. So far though, markets have been relatively calm. (SOUNDBITE) Bill Blain, Senior partner and Capital Markets Strategist at Mint Partners, saying: "You've got to always remember that markets have no moral compass. All they are every doing is reacting to where they think the prices of assets are going to be as a result of what's going on. So the fact that markets have very quickly discounted what's going on, the horror stories out of Gaza, the tragedy/murder that we've just seen in Ukraine, markets are very quickly moving on to what the likely effects are going to be. Britain says Europe should be ready to pay the price because much bigger costs are at stake. Ultimately, the severity of sanctions may depend on pressure from the Netherlands, which lost 193 people aboard the Malaysian airliner.