UPDATED: EU is ready to take action if Russia invades Ukraine

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BRUSSELS, Feb 14 (Reuters) – The European Union is preparing several responses to any further moves by Russia to destabilise Ukraine, but the bloc does not know exactly what Moscow plans to do, an EU official said.

The official said U.S. talks with Russia were “not yielding a lot” but that dialogue with President Vladimir Putin was still open through the leaders of Germany and France.

The official, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said the harsher the EU sanctions against Russia would be in case of a military invasion, the bigger the hit for the bloc should Moscow retaliate.

The official said 40% of EU gas came from Russia and that the bloc was in talks with Norway and Qatar, among others, about increased energy supplies if needed.

The official also said the EU was looking at how quickly Russia could switch its energy supplies to China should it cut sales to Europe.

The EU was also preparing for refugee arrivals should Russia invade Ukraine, they said.

The source said the EU was expecting to decide on further macroeconomic support for Ukraine and that Kyiv was seeking more political support.

Some in the EU wanted to impose strong sanctions to discourage Russia from any attack, but others said that would amount to an escalation of tensions and that the bloc should only react later if needed, the official said.

Meanwhile, the European Union is not withdrawing its diplomatic presence from Ukraine, its foreign policy chief said on Saturday, after the United States warned that Russian forces could invade at any time.

“The EU and its member states are coordinating their actions in view of the current threats on Ukraine. Our diplomatic missions are not closing. They remain in Kyiv and continue to operate in support to EU citizens and in cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities,” Josep Borrell said in a statement.

“We recall that any further military aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences and severe cost in response,” Borrell said.

Photo – EC Audiovisual Service

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