BRUSSELS – The ambassadors of the European Union in Brussels moved closer to consensus on a key package of sanctions targeting broad sectors of Russia’s economy and individuals on Thursday, but are contentious. debating whether to keep President Vladimir V. Putin off their list for now, said diplomats involved in or briefed on the talks.
The ambassadors met on Thursday morning, just hours after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and are scheduled to meet again in the afternoon to prepare for the talks that EU leaders will hold in Brussels on Thursday night about an overall response to the invasion.
Diplomats say some countries’ earlier opposition to specific sectors – Italy for luxury goods and Belgium for diamonds, for example – has evaporated in the face of invasion and there is now a broad consensus among the 27 member states.
The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell Fontelles, described the measures proposed on Thursday morning as “the harshest sanctions package we have ever taken”.
But a new rift has emerged: Several member states, led by Germany, are advocating that the package excludes Mr. Putin for now.
Asked for comment, a German diplomat did not deny that Germany wanted to keep Mr. Putin away from the latest sanctions.
The reason for his removal was the desire to keep channels of dialogue with Russia’s top leadership. They are considering dismissing Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov for the same reason.
However, other member states argue that the bloc should immediately inflict the greatest possible damage on Russia rather than stifle hopes of a new diplomatic dialogue.
EU leaders were scheduled to convene in Brussels on Thursday evening and are expected to meet overnight. The sanctions they are expected to agree to will come into effect when the legal language is announced, on Friday or Saturday, the diplomats said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/world/europe/russia-sanctions-european-union.html The European Union is considering skipping Putin now because it is considering new sanctions against Russia