European Council President Herman Van Rompuy speaks at a news conference at the end of a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine, in Brussels March 6, 2014. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)
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The European Union suspended talks with Russia on a wide-ranging economic pact and a visa agreement Thursday in response to its military incursion into Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, threatening tougher sanctions unless Moscow swiftly defuses the crisis.The moves at an emergency EU summit came on the heels of sanctions by the Obama administration, which imposed visa restrictions on pro-Russian opponents of the new Ukrainian government in Kiev and cleared the way for financial sanctions. EU President Herman Van Rompuy said further measures could include travel bans, asset freezes and the cancellation of an EU-Russia summit if Moscow does not quickly end its aggression and joins meaningful, multilateral talks within days to halt the crisis. However, the EU's latest sanctions appeared weak compared to the U.S. ones and to what some more hawkish EU countries wanted, particularly those bordering Russia.EU exports to Russia in 2012 totaled 123 billion euros ($170 billion), and European banks have about 200 billion euros in outstanding loans to Russia.Like the raft of EU measures, the U.S. sanctions are flexible: The penalties will increase if Russia continues its aggressive policies but also could be ratcheted down if Moscow pulls back its troops in Crimea and recognizes Ukraine's new government.The EU proposed a $15 billion aid package for Ukraine on Wednesday.
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