The July 17 downing of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over
territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists, killing all
298 people on board, appears to have stiffened the resolve of politicians and also prompted reluctant business groups to back further measures.
A view is
emerging that Moscow, believed to have supplied the surface-to-air missile that shot down flight MH17, must be directly challenged if the three-month conflict between Russian-backed insurgents and government forces in eastern Ukraine is to be resolved.
Thus far the EU has restricted punitive action against
Moscow to asset freezes and visa bans targeting members of Putin’s inner
circle. But according to a draft EU statement dated July 25, acquired by
several news sources, the 28-member bloc is considering introducing so-called “phase three” sanctions targeting entire sectors of
the Russian economy.