Although President Obama assured on Thursday that there'll be no military action taken against Russia, things are heating up between the Kremlin and the United States and its European allies. Members of the European Union met with Ukrainian officials on Saturday to discuss the escalating situation in eastern Ukraine, including the apparent invasion of Russian soldiers in the battle-torn region. Now, the European Union is increasing its sanctions on Russia, as a way to intimidate the already struggling nation.
European leaders discussed the sanctions and other possible outcomes at an EU summit in Brussels, Belgium on Saturday. "Everybody is fully aware that we have to act quickly," said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
According to The Associated Press, the EU is giving President Vladimir Putin one week to "withdraw all its military assets and forces from Ukraine." If Putin fails to reduce Russia's military presence within the week, a new round of sanctions will be applied.
Details of the proposed sanctions are being kept under wraps, for now. “The situation has very much escalated over the last two days and if this continues we will decide on further sanctions within the week,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters after the summit.
Most of the European leaders agreed that Russia was sparking the military aggression in Ukraine, funding, training and arming the pro-Russian separatists. According to the United Nations Security Council, images taken this week showed Russian tanks entering eastern Ukraine, a sign of an obvious invasion to Ukrainian government officials.
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko called Ukraine a victim of "military aggression and terror," adding that any more military action taken by Russia would place the countries at "a point of no return."
Ukraine is not a member of the European Union, but the country has clear support from the EU and its world leaders. "We need to support Ukraine, and send military materials to help Ukraine defend itself," Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told BBC News.
With at least 1,000 Russian soldiers already in Ukraine — and thousands more just across the eastern border — Ukrainian forces have had to retreat from cities, Ukrainian military officials in Kiev told reporters on Saturday. The resistance from Russia and the Russian-backed rebels is strong, military officials said.
"There is a very high risk not only for peace and stability for Ukraine, but for the whole ... of Europe," Poroshenko said at the summit.
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