BRUSSELS – The European Union readied a fresh wave of sanctions against Russia on Saturday, with warnings that the escalating conflict in Ukraine was putting all of Europe at risk.
Fears of a wider confrontation spiralled after NATO said Russia sent troops and weapons across the border to help pro-Kremlin rebels in a new counter-offensive that has seen key towns in the southeast wrested from Kiev's control.
The European Union's 28 leaders were to meet later on Saturday to discuss the worsening situation, with French President Francois Hollande already indicating that leaders would no doubt increase their sanctions on Russia.
EU Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso warned that the crisis was near a point of no return and said tougher measures against the Kremlin were ready.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in Brussels to drum up support from the EU for a firm riposte to Russia, was expected to plea his case directly to the leaders at the summit. “Ukraine is now the subject of foreign military aggression and terror,” he said after meetings with top EU officials. “Today we are talking about the fate of Ukraine, tomorrow it could be for all Europe.”
The EU and US have already slapped the toughest sanctions on Russia since the Cold War over the crisis, sparked last November when Ukraine's then president Viktor Yanukovych abandoned a deal on trade ties with Brussels.