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EU foreign ministers discuss more hard-line response to Russia over MH17 disaster

July 22, 2014 at 6:21 PM EST
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GWEN IFILL: And so we take a closer look at Europe’s response.

Today, they did impose new sanctions on individual Russian officials, and, as we just heard, they may consider even tougher measures later this week.

Gary Gibbon of Independent Television News reports from Brussels.

GARY GIBBON: The U.S. government’s been telling European governments they need to wake up; they have been too reluctant to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine, too keen to protect their own contracts.

At its meeting of foreign ministers in the wake of the Malaysian air disaster, Europe feels it has done just that. They opened with a minute’s silence. The Dutch foreign minister then spoke passionately to E.U. colleagues of his country’s loss, how he’d known seven people on the flight, how Russian-backed separatists might be tampering with the evidence at the crash scene. Europe, he said after the meeting, had toughened its stance.

FRANS TIMMERMANS, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands: I’m happy with the fact that so many of my colleagues expressed solidarity and support for the victims and their loved ones. I’m also happy that we have taken a decision which is, I think, quite forceful.

GARY GIBBON: Significantly today, the Dutch became more hard-line, and hawks like Sweden said it was a different kind of meeting.

President Obama said Europe needed to wake up. Do you think Europe did wake up today?

CARL BILDT, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sweden: I think Europe did wake up.

GARY GIBBON: And the skeptics who says, actually, all we have got is a list of names potentially by the end of the week that we were going to get next week anyway?

CARL BILDT: No, you won’t. No, no, no, no. I mean, there things in this paper that has never been in the paper before.

PHILIP HAMMOND, Foreign Secretary, United Kingdom: Well, I’m quite new to this whole E.U. process, and it has its own peculiarities. But what I heard today was a clear political commitment by the foreign ministers in response to this outrageous act.

GARY GIBBON: In Brussels today, they united, but the strong tendency has been for deep-seated division in Europe on Ukraine.