Pressure at summit grows to ease EU sanctions against Russia
 Tbilisi 11:44 - 19.12.14 «GHN»
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EU leaders at their summit in Brussels are defending tough economic sanctions against Russia, but pressure to ease their stance is growing. Christoph Hasselbach reports from Brussels, reports GHN based on DW.
It's the first time the new EU Council President Donald Tusk (pictured above) has hosted an EU summit. The former Polish prime minister has taken part in many of these meetings as leader of a member state, but in his new role he feels, as he frankly put it, "like a debutant with stage fright." His English is still a bit broken, but his expertise and resolve are generally acknowledged. He has needed both for the two most important items on the summit's agenda: how to deal with Russia in the Ukraine crisis and how to put together an investment package for Europe's still weak economy.
Many have expected Mr. Tusk, whose home country feels directly threatened by Russia, to take a particularly hard line on Moscow, but he was striking a rather balanced note when he told journalists in Brussels, "we will not find a long-term solution for Ukraine without a both tough and responsible strategy towards Russia."
As for the tough part, the EU has already imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia and has just added punitive measures specifically directed towards Crimea, which Russia annexed earlier this year. The EU must show, as Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said, "that we do not recognize the annexation of Crimea."
incentives for Russia in place: If Moscow cooperates on Ukraine, as the French President Francois Hollande said, "then there is no need for new sanctions - on the contrary, in that case we should think about how we, too, could begin to de-escalate."

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