Germany’s Angela Merkel ready to confront Russia over Syrian war

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 October, 2016, 4:13pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 October, 2016, 7:42pm

Angela Merkel wants to get other European Union member countries to agree to step up sanctions against Russia because of its role in the war in Syria, a German newspaper cited sources close to the German chancellor as saying.

The issue of sanctions is due to be discussed at an EU summit on Thursday and Friday. Both the EU and the US have already imposed economic and other sanctions on Russia for its seizure of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and for its support for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) newspaper cited the sources as saying it was proving hard to get the agreement of the Social Democrats – the junior partner to Merkel’s conservatives in Germany’s ruling coalition – and other EU countries on tougher measures, but that “resentment towards the Russians has increased”.

The attack on a UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy in Syria last month and Russia’s actions in Aleppo have contributed to that, the newspaper cited the sources as saying.

Western powers have accused Russia and Syria of committing atrocities by bombing hospitals, killing civilians and preventing medical evacuations, accusations that they reject. The US has said two Russian warplanes bombed the aid convoy, but Moscow denies this.

US President Barack Obama told Merkel by telephone that he would support “a tough response” if European countries could agree on that, FAS cited sources as saying. It cited the sources as saying further sanctions were being considered against the aviation industry or in sectors that affected the Russian Defence Ministry.