Top U.S. and EU diplomats vowed on Thursday in Washington to support a unified sanctions regime against Russia and insisted Moscow abide by the Minsk ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry and the EU’s new foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, spoke at a joint press conference in the Treaty Room at the State Department.
Mogherini said her trip to Washington was a sign of the significance of the close EU-U.S. relationship.
Kerry charged that Russian-backed forces have carried out a “blatant land grab’’ in eastern Ukraine since signing the so-called Minsk ceasefire in September.
He called the situation “alarming.”
Mogherini laughed when a reporter asked about her alleged “softness” toward Moscow, saying it was not the first time she had been challenged on the issue.
“You need a political channel to make sure it produces change in Russia; you need a strengthened diplomatic effort.
“If questioning what kind of political role we should have means being soft,” she said, leaving the sentence unfinished.
She repeated several times during the hour-long press conference that the U.S. and EU were “going to follow up the sanctions policy in a coordinated way.’’
Russian sanctions would be next taken up in a March EU meeting.
Any sanctions consideration is “in the hands of the Russians now to fulfill their own commitment.”
“Sanctions are an instrument, the point is political will,’’ she said.