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EU Mulling Action Against Russia

December 9, 1999

HELSINKI, Finland (AP) _ The European Union summit is considering taking action against Russia to protest its military campaign in Chechnya, Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen said today.

Lipponen, who is hosting an EU summit Friday, did not spell out what measures the trade bloc would take to get Russia to end its air raids and bombing assaults against the rebel republic.

The Finnish leader’s remarks, first reported in the Aamulehti newspaper, were confirmed by his office today. Lipponen was quoted as saying that ``it is completely up to the Russian government what is decided at the summit. The EU is considering alternatives that are not only political.″

EU officials have sent mixed signals about what to do with Russia, fearing it may not be able to deliver on the threat of sanctions or it may upset a relationship with Moscow that is tenuous at best.

European Commission President Romano Prodi said Wednesday that the 15 European leaders would discuss the issue, but ``no one is talking about sanctions.″

No significant amounts of EU cash are being distributed in Russia that would qualify for a freeze. The last EU food aid program _ worth $500 million _ is about to end.

Lipponen echoed previous comments by the EU that the force the Russians are using in Chechnya is disproportionate, and ``against all international principles and human rights. It’s not just a question of Russia’s ultimatum. It’s also a question of it’s whole line of operations in that it’s not seeking a political solution.″

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