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Putin comments spark EU minister talks on new sanctions, weapons

By Michelle Nichols and John Irish

UNITEDNATIONS -European Union foreign ministers will urgently meet later on Wednesday to discuss new sanctions and weapons deliveries to Kyiv after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilization of thousands of Russians to fight in Ukraine.

The bloc’s 27 foreign ministers are in New York for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Putin’s announcement – which included moves to annex swaths of Ukrainian territory and a threat to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia – showed panic and desperation.

“The ministers have to discuss this threat, to reiterate the continuing support to Ukraine and to alert the international community about the unacceptable situation in which Putin is putting all of us,” Borrell told reporters.

He said the ministers would discuss continuing military support for Ukraine and an eighth sanctions package on Russia.

“It’s clear Russia wants to destroy Ukraine,” Borrell said. “We will not be intimidated.”

Speaking in an interview with Reuters, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said Putin was trying to frighten and divide the West, but his latest comments were a “game-changing moment.”

Wednesday’s meeting should emphasize unity, move ahead quickly with a new sanctions package and use the European peace facility funding mechanism to ramp up weapons supplies to Ukraine, he said.

“We should also declare the commitment of legal responsibility. The fuhrers in the Kremlin should not take it for granted that their accountability for the genocidal war should be taken mildly,” he said.

Keeping unity among the 27 for a sanctions package may prove complex amid an energy supply crisis that has hit the bloc hard. Hungary on Tuesday dismissed the idea.

“It’s different now,” Reinsalu said. “There is a saying in aviation that regulations are written with the blood of victims of air catastrophes. Well all the (sanctions) packages are written with the blood and atrocities Russia has committed.”

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