Merkel, Hollande ready for further sanctions against Russia
Germany and France are ready to agree more extensive sanctions against Russia if a planned presidential election in Ukraine on May 25 is foiled, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande said.
In a joint statement, they agreed to support tougher sanctions against Russia - affecting areas such as energy, defence, financial services and engineering - than European Union leaders outlined at a meeting in Brussels on March 6.
"We would be ready to take further sanctions against Russia if the May 25 elections in Ukraine fail," Merkel said at a joint news conference with Hollande in the Baltic port of Stralsund, although sanctions would not be "an end in themselves".
Germany, which relies on Russia for 40 percent of its natural gas supplies, has been seen as hesitant to ratchet up and broaden sanctions, which are opposed by most Germans.
The May 25 election is to choose a successor to President Viktor Yanukovich, the pro-Russian president of Ukraine toppled by unrelenting protests.