Updated: EU leaders won’t discuss Russia sanctions over Ukraine Thursday

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BRUSSELS, Feb 17 (Reuters) – European Union leaders meeting over the crisis in Ukraine on Thursday will not discuss specific new sanctions on Russia as the matter is “divisive”, an EU official said on Thursday.

Asked about the latest shelling in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, where Russia-backed separatists face off against Kyiv troops, the official said:

“The trigger for sanctions is a matter of political appreciation. We are not entering that discussion yet. We are carefully looking at the Donbass shelling, we are aware that it might be used as a test or excuse.”

The 27 national EU leaders are meeting in Brussels over the crisis in Ukraine for one hour from 1130 GMT.

The official, who is involved in preparing the summit and spoke under condition of anonymity, said it would mostly be a debrief by the French and German leaders following their talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The European Union will remain vigilant as Moscow has not been pulling back Russian troops from Ukraine’s border but adding even more soldiers to the military build-up, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday.

“We hear claims from Russia about pulling back troops but we have not seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground. To the contrary, the build-up continues,” she told reporters in Brussels ahead of an extraordinary EU summit set to discuss the crisis.

European Union leaders meeting over the crisis in Ukraine on Thursday will not discuss specific new sanctions on Russia as the matter is “divisive”, an EU official said on Thursday.

Asked about the latest shelling in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, where Russia-backed separatists face off against Kyiv troops, the official said:

“The trigger for sanctions is a matter of political appreciation. We are not entering that discussion yet. We are carefully looking at the Donbass shelling, we are aware that it might be used as a test or excuse.”

The 27 national EU leaders are meeting in Brussels over the crisis in Ukraine for one hour from 1130 GMT.

The official, who is involved in preparing the summit and spoke under condition of anonymity, said it would mostly be a debrief by the French and German leaders following their talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Photo -French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen take part in a European Union leaders extraordinary summit to discuss the crisis between Russia and the West over Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium, 17 February 2022. EPA-EFE/YVES HERMAN / POOL

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