However, European officials have been wary of instigating too-strict sanctions against Russia, because the region is dependent on Russian energy supplies—the EU imports around 30 percent of its gas from the country. The EU did not join the U.S. on Wednesday in imposing sanctions against specific Russian companies or banks, but merely halted lending to Russia from European pan-governmental bodies.
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Now, analysts believe the U.S. may use the airline tragedy to push Europe to change its softer stance.
"If there is evidence linking Russia to this, that should inspire the Europeans to do much more on three counts," Hilary Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state, said on the U.S. "Charlie Rose" television interview show on Thursday.
"One: toughen their own sanctions, making it very clear there has to be a price to pay. Number two: immediately accelerate efforts, and announce they are doing so, to find alternatives to Gazprom… And thirdly: do more in concert with us to support the Ukrainians."
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Some officials, like Swedish Prime Minister John Fredrik Reinfeldt, are pushing Europe to instigate tougher sanctions on Russia, which would hit an unspecified "broad range of economic areas". In March, the European Council said these would be enforced if Russia took any further steps to destabilize the situation in Ukraine. Other suggestions include halting all weapons and defense deliveries to Russia.
Standard Bank's Ash said: "Prudence might suggest that foreign investors in Russia and in Russian assets look to reduce exposure—if subsequently you get hit by further sanctions then your loss/stupidity, and try explaining that to end-investors."