EU leaders meet to discuss Ukraine crisis and push diplomacy

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Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen

European Union leader held a short summit meeting on Thursday to assess the chances of diplomacy to unlock the standoff over Ukraine and discuss sanctions in case Russia invades its neighbour.

The hastily called summit preceded a two-day EU-Africa meeting which brought the 27 EU leaders to Brussels.

The meeting was not expected to go into deep detail of what sanctions should be used and how those measures would hit the economies of the member states, officials said.

“Diplomacy has not yet spoken its last word. That is good and we have still hope that peace will prevail,” said EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

The EU has joined the United Kingdom and the United States in insisting that Russia would be hit with massive sanctions if it invades Ukraine.

Before heading into the summit, Ms von der Leyen joined calls for Russia to physically provide proof its troops are moving away from confrontation near the Ukraine border.

“Now we hear claims from Russia about pulling back troops, but we have not seen any signs so far of de-escalation on the ground,” she said.

“To the contrary, we see that the build-up continues. Therefore, now we need deeds to trust the words we have heard. We will not let our guard down.”

The main aim of the meeting was to make sure that even if potential sanctions hurt some member nations more than others, they would not affect the unity of the bloc.

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