EU to Offer Ukraine Help Over Azov Sea at Summit 

European Union leaders will offer Ukraine help for its regions affected by Russia’s actions in the Azov Sea when they meet Thursday, according to a draft summit statement seen by Reuters on Wednesday. 

But there is no mention of consideration of further sanctions against Russia, reflecting division among member states. Diplomats expect a rollover of existing sanctions but no consensus on increases sought by more hawkish governments. 

Condemning Russia, the EU will reiterate its support for Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea’s 2014 annexation by Moscow and — referring to the capture of Ukrainian naval vessels off Crimea last month — said: “There is no justification for the use of military force by Russia.” 

The statement demanded the release of Ukrainian sailors seized during the incident, the return of their vessels and free passage to all ships passing through the Kerch Strait. 

It concluded with the offer of financial and other measures to help areas of eastern Ukraine whose maritime access was affected by Moscow’s action. 

“The EU stands ready to adopt measures to strengthen further its support in favor of the affected areas of Ukraine,” the statement said. 

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met summit chair Donald Tusk in Brussels on Wednesday and will hold talks at NATO headquarters in the city on Thursday. EU leaders will discuss Ukraine and Russia over a summit dinner later in the day.

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