20/03/2014 World News Today


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This is BBC World News today with me, Zeinab Badawi. Tit-for-tat,


President Obama announces further sanctions against Russia and Moscow


retaliates and imposes sanctions on leading American politicians and


officials. EU leaders tough and rhetoric over Crimea. Will they back


the words with actions? Mr Obama says he will work with the. We have


been working harder to introduce more severe actions if Russia


escalates. Gunmen storm a hotel in Kabul.


Australia says it is the best lead so far. Could these satellite images


showed debris from the missing Malaysian airliner? Ships and planes


are scouring the South Indian Ocean to find out.


And Vera Lynn, the Forces' Sweetheart, is releasing a new album


at the age of 97. Should she inspire us to rethink what we can do in


older age? Hello and welcome. EU leaders are


preparing for dinner tonight after a day of discussion on what action to


take against Russia in the light of its decision to absorb Crimea.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel says EU leaders will agree new sanctions


but the key issue is how extensive and deep they will be and whether


they will take effect. In the US, President Obama has announced


Washington is widening its travel ban and asset freeze on Russian


officials. Russia has retaliated and imposed sanctions on leading


officials including Senator John McCain.


In Crimea Bay are issuing Russian passports as Moscow continues to


tighten its grip on the breakaway Ukrainian republic. For EU leaders


in Brussels the immediate issue is extending travel bans and asset


freezes in response to the annexation. In longer term perhaps


the total reevaluation of the relationship with Moscow. President


Obama emerged with a new warning of more widespread sanctions if Russia


escalates the situation further. I signed a new order today that gives


of -- gives us the authority to impose sanctions not only on


individuals but key sectors of the Russian economy. This is not our


preferred outcome. These sanctions will not only have a significant


impact on the Russian economy but also the global economy. The UN's


top diplomat has been in Moscow for talks with, well, the man of the


moment. During our meeting I have emphasised


that all parties refrain from any hasty or provocative actions that


could further exacerbate already very tense and volatile situations.


But no hint of a shift in Moscow's position. The lower house of their


parliament has formally annexed Crimea and they have announced


sanctions against US politicians. Our policy to protect our


compatriots remains unchanged. We will defend their issues by legal


diplomatic and means. It still looks like a new deep freeze in Russian


relations with the West. European Union leaders are meeting


in Brussels to discuss the situation and possible further sanctions. For


the latest we are joined by Iain Watson. Give us an idea of the kind


of mood there. Is it hardening against Russia, is there cohesion,


Unity? I think it is a pragmatic mood overall. Here the temperature


is dropping but it has not dropped as far as it has in the US. A range


of things were discussed, including making it very difficult for the


annexed Crimea to export to the European Union, they have looked at


extending the list of 21 Russians and Ukrainians associated with the


former regime, travel bans and asset freezes. What a also want to do is


draw up a list of further sanctions to be imposed if Russia goes any


further. That is what they have been talking about this afternoon but


when the you leaders have dinner in the next few minutes things will


become more difficult to get a complete consensus. -- the European


Union leaders. The Tory consensus is that there must be consequences for


Russia, but other countries operate dependent on Russian energy


supplies. I don't think we will see anything like the same scale of


sanctions that the Americans are imposing. One thing I have been told


is that there will be no talk of sanctions against Russian financial


institutions. America has made sanctions against at least one


Russian financial institution will stop picking up on what he was


saying, let me bring you the numbers.


You will see that the Europeans have much closer trade on energy and


financial ties with the Russians compared with the Americans. Last


year the trading of goods between Russia and the European union


totalled almost US$450 billion. The Russian total was less than $40


million. Ian Bond is with the Centre for European Reform but he is a


former British ambassador to Latvia, which was part of the Soviet


Union, and is now part of the European Union. Picking up on what


Ian said, the fact is that the bottom line for the European Union


is that we want to say Russia did something wrong as long as we do not


hurt ourselves. If we stick to that it makes it very difficult. We need


to be compared to accept some pain if we are going to send an effective


signal. It is a bit misleading to talk in terms of the amount of


trade, when what the Americans are doing at the moment is targeting


leading members of President Putin's circle rather than looking


at a broad scope of trade sanctions. But the fact is, the figures show


just how far the ties do go, and therefore that may be a constraint


on actions. Does that in your views say that the European Union actions


against Russia are pathetic and toothless, as Malcolm Rifkind said?


-- your view. I think he was right. The figures sound impressive but the


European Union trade with Russia is less than with Switzerland. Do you


see the European Union and the US, Obama saying we want to act


together, slightly going at a different speed at the moment? Yes,


the Americans have been much more willing to target people close to


President Putin. They had a shorter list in their first package but at


least three people had desks in the Kremlin. Including the Deputy Prime


Minister. Yes, and this list is focused on people who are close


either personally, financially or politically to President Putin. The


European Union list was really 21 people that Putin would probably


barely recognise in the street. Do you think that we will look at this


crisis over the Crimea and say that this is a


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