BRUSSELS, Belgium – British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Wednesday that the case for tougher sanctions against Russia gets stronger every day Moscow fails to take concrete action to support the Ukraine government's peace plan.
The shooting down of a Ukrainian helicopter, killing all nine on board, by pro-Russian rebels Tuesday, was hard to reconcile with President Vladimir Putin's backing of the plan, Hague said. “We have not seen the actions to match that,” he said as he arrived for a NATO foreign ministers meeting dominated by the Ukraine crisis.
No Putin follow-up, means the case for sanctions gets stronger, he said. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, just returned from Kiev, said the helicopter attack showed just how fragile the situation was and how fast progress made can be destroyed ... by the separatists on the ground.
There seemed to be some small chance of a de-escalation of the crisis but there was little reason to be optimistic, Steinmeier said. Russia said on Wednesday it hoped Kiev and the international community would take heed of the positive signals it was sending over the Ukraine crisis.
"We are counting on the positive signals that the Russian president is now sending being heard across the world and, above all, in Ukraine," Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Russian news agencies.