But Russia’s Baltic neighbours attacked what they see as Moscow’s attempts to blur the line between peace and war.
“We are probably facing the most dangerous situation in the last 30 years, I am talking about not only Ukraine but the eastern flank of NATO,” said Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, a day after EU leaders held a summit with Ukraine and other former Soviet republics in Brussels.
He cited fears that Russia might integrate Belarus, which borders Poland and two Baltic states, into its military systems and use its territory “as a possible platform to attack neighbouring countries”.
Any coordinated EU sanctions will likely depend on Germany, whose new centre-left chancellor Olaf Scholz has taken a tougher line than his centre-right predecessor, Angela Merkel.
However, Berlin would still be torn over whether to risk Russian natural gas supplies to its businesses and households this winter by standing up to Moscow, diplomats said.
Germany, France and Ukraine sought on Wednesday to revive the Normandy Format, a diplomatic peace initiative with Russia to end a conflict in eastern Ukraine pitting pro-Russian separatists against Kiev’s forces.
“We will underscore again that the inviolability of borders is an important basis for peace in Europe, and that together we will do everything to ensure that this inviolability endures,” Scholz told reporters at his first EU summit as German leader.
The West imposed economic sanctions on Russia in 2014 over its annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. The measures targeted Russia’s energy, banking and defence sectors.
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa suggested that one option for the EU in its standoff with Moscow might be to prevent the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany from becoming operational.