European Union leaders agreed Thursday to consider options for additional restrictive measures against Russia, including economic sanctions. 

The first day of the EU Leaders’ Summit came to a close with the announcement of the summit statement on Russia.

The statement said the European Council expects the Russian leadership to demonstrate a more constructive engagement and political commitment as well as stop actions against the EU, its member states and third countries.

The statement, shared by Barend Leyts, the spokesperson for the European Council president, also called on Russia “to fully assume its responsibility in ensuring the full implementation of the Minsk agreements as the key condition for any substantial change in the EU’s stance.”

Stressing the importance of a robust and coordinated response by EU members against Russia’s “malign, illegal and disruptive” activities, the statement said the EU would do this by making “full use of all instruments at the EU’s disposal, and ensuring coordination with partners.”

“To this end, the European Council also invites the Commission and the High Representative to present options for additional restrictive measures, including economic sanctions,” the statement said.

-‘Eastern Partners’, dialogue with Russia

EU leaders also stressed “the need to further deepen and intensify political, economic and people-to-people ties and cooperation with the Eastern Partners with a view to increasing their resilience.”

“In this context, it recalls the 2017 Eastern partnership Summit declaration which acknowledges the European aspirations and European choice of the Eastern Partners concerned, as stated in the Association Agreements, and in the context of their entry into force.

“It also underlines its commitment to deepening relations with Central Asia,” the statement said.

“The European Council reiterates the European Union’s openness to a selective engagement with Russia in areas of EU interest.

“It invites the Commission and the High Representative to develop concrete options including conditionalities and leverages in this regard, with a view to their consideration by the Council, on topics such as climate and the environment, health, as well as selected issues of foreign and security policy and multilateral issues such as the JCPoA, Syria and Libya,” it said.

“In this context, the European Council will explore formats and conditionalities of dialogue with Russia.”

It also said that “the European Council condemns the limitations on fundamental freedoms in Russia and the shrinking space for civil society.”

“It stresses the need for people-to-people contacts and continues EU support to Russian civil society, human rights organizations and independent media. It invites the Commission and the High Representative to put forward proposals in this regard.”

“The European Council reiterates its full support for all efforts to establish truth, justice and accountability for the victims of the downing of MH17 and their next of kin and calls on all States to cooperate fully with the ongoing legal case,” the statement said, concluding that the council will examine this issue and offer guidance later.

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