Foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday (29 January) extended the Russia blacklist for six months, promised to add extra names, and began preparations for a fresh round of economic sanctions.
The new names – individuals and entities – are to be added by 9 February at the latest.
Leaders will decide whether to move ahead on economic sanctions most likely at a summit in mid-March.
But Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that if Russia escalates the conflict, the EU can react more quickly.
“If further military operations like the ones announced [by Russia-controlled rebels in Ukraine], with a big attack on Mariupol take place, then Europe’s reaction will be unavoidable”, he said.
The EU called the snap meeting after a rocket attack on Mariupol which killed 30 civilians.
It took place amid concern the new far-left Greek government would block a joint decision.
Belgium’s Didier Reynders noted the ministers also agreed to launch efforts to counter Russian war propaganda.
He said the EU will help existing European media, including online media, to extend the reach of their reporting on the Ukraine crisis.
“The idea is to help them tell the truth, the facts, not to do our own propaganda … We don’t want to create a European equivalent of the Russian propaganda machine. That would be against our values”.