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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Europe Warns Of Economic Sanctions

LONDON -- West European countries kept up their threats of economic sanctions against Russia on Wednesday even though Moscow appeared to back away from a controversial ultimatum to Chechens to leave their capital or die.

France reiterated warnings that a European Union summit in Helsinki this week could take steps against Russia.

Britain said a Group of Eight foreign ministers' meeting planned for next week in Berlin must discuss Chechnya as its top priority, a senior British official said. He said European Union leaders would consider recalling their ambassadors for consultations unless Russia showed signs of easing its crackdown, and could review the way European food aid was distributed to take it out of Russian government hands.

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said the EU will stop cooperating with Russia if it continues its "brutal" military assault on Chechnya.

"The Russians should know we cannot continue cooperating with them for long in these present circumstances, as if nothing were happening, while they refuse to heed the growing pressure of the international community," Vedrine told the French parliament.

Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema also said Europe might have to consider some form of economic pressure against Russia over Chechnya.

"It is obvious that Europe ... has many possibilities to exercise strong pressure on Russia. This pressure can be exercised with all means at our disposal, including economic pressure," he said.