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EU discusses new sanctions against Russia today

The European Union’s foreign ministers meet today to discuss fresh sanctions against Russia, following an escalation of the war in eastern Ukraine. The renewed offensive by Russian-backed rebels has killed dozens of civilians, many in Mariupol, a port on the Azov Sea.

Vladimir Putin has made clear his view that Russia is confronting not Ukraine, but the West itself. One measure that would hit Russia’s struggling economy hard is to exclude it from the SWIFT banking system; Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister, has said that move would lead to “unrestricted” retaliation, not merely the economic kind.

EU foreign ministers are unlikely to go that far. Instead, they will probably recommend that member states extend the blacklist of Russian officials subject to visa bans. Greece might veto any serious sanctions: its new government has sounded friendly towards the Kremlin. Today’s meeting will test that friendship.