The Washington Post reports: Furious over Russia’s bombardment of Aleppo, European leaders warned the Kremlin on Thursday that it could face consequences if it maintains its offensive against the besieged rebel-held part of the Syrian city, although they fell short of the unity required to impose new sanctions.
The sharp rhetoric was a substantial departure for European leaders, who have long been focused on when they can dial back existing sanctions on Russia, not ramp them up. Instead, Russian actions in recent weeks have upended the conversation. From the Russian-backed pummeling of Aleppo to the shipment of nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad, the recent steps have galvanized Western anger and plunged relations to fresh depths. The warnings came as leaders gathered in Brussels for a summit in part to discuss relations with Russia.
Europe’s toughened stance marks a partial victory for Washington, which has struggled to maintain European unity on sanctions and has long taken a harder position on Russia than its partners across the Atlantic. The stand also reflects the toll of Russia’s actions in Syria, where it has partnered with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in a punishing campaign that has made little distinction between combatant and civilian. [Continue reading…]