EU foreign ministers will today discuss possible further sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
The ministers are meeting in Brussels follows the G20 summit in Australia, which David Cameron said had sent a “very clear message” to Vladimir Putin about the West’s readiness to ramp up sanctions unless he took action to defuse the situation.
Mr Putin – who left the summit in Brisbane early – was left in no doubt that he stands at a “crossroads” in Russia’s relationship with the rest of the world, said the British Prime Minister.
Possible extra sanctions being considered by Mr Hammond and his counterparts are thought likely to target individuals responsible for disputed elections in two eastern enclaves of Ukraine which produced majorities for pro-independence rebels.
Britain's Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said the Brussels meeting came at an “important moment of reckoning for Europe to continue to show the strength of resolve that has been shown in recent months”.
During the gathering of world leaders in Brisbane, Mr Cameron had what was described by Downing Street as a “robust exchange” with the Russian president.
The British Prime Minister told Mr Putin he should recognise he stands at “a fork in the road” over his future relations with the rest of the world.
Mr Cameron also joined other EU leaders in talks with US President Barack Obama to discuss a co-ordinated response to the continued Russian destabilisation of Ukraine.
The PM said there was “good unity between European countries and the USA”, who had agreed that “we will continue to maintain the sanctions against Russia, we will continue to keep up the pressure, and if Russia continues to destabilise Ukraine, further measures would follow”.
He added: “This is important because although some have said there’s a cost to sanctions – and there is a cost to sanctions – there would be a far greater cost of allowing a frozen conflict on the continent of Europe to be created and maintained.”
Mr Putin described his talks on Ukraine with European leaders as “very frank, very substantive and, I think, helpful”.