The European Union threatened Russia on Tuesday with harsher sanctions over Ukraine that could inflict wider damage on its economy following the downing of a Malaysian airliner, but it delayed action for a few days.
Efforts to forge a united front were hampered by a French announcement that the planned delivery of a warship to Moscow would go ahead despite U.S. and British pleas to halt it.
At a meeting in Brussels, EU foreign ministers for the first time raised the possibility of restricting Russian access to European capital markets, defence and energy technology, asking the executive European Commission to draft proposals this week.
Such sanctions would require the approval of all EU governments and would apply only if Moscow does not cooperate with an international investigation into the Malaysia Airlines plane crash in an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists, and if it fails to stop weapons flowing into the country.
"I am happy that we have taken a decision which is I think quite forceful and that we have reached this decision unanimously," Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans told reporters after the meeting.
Timmermans opened the meeting after a minute's silence was held in memory of the 298 people - 193 of them Dutch - who died when flight MH17 crashed last Thursday en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
The ministers agreed to widen the list of individuals and entities targeted by asset freezes and visa bans, and opened up the possibility of imposing sanctions on people who give financial support to Russian decision-makers.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said London wanted the measures to target friends and allies of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin to pressure Russia to stop meddling in Ukraine.
"The word is 'cronies': the cronies of Mr Putin and his clique in the Kremlin are the people who have to bear the pressure," he said. "If the financial interests of the group around the leadership are affected, the leadership will know about it."
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Tuesday's meeting took place as the United States piled pressure on Europe, which is wary of antagonizing a vital energy supplier, to move fast against Russia.
The president of the former Soviet republic of Lithuania, now an EU member, accused France of pursuing a policy akin to the 1930s appeasement of Nazi Germany over its decision to go ahead with the delivery of a helicopter carrier to Moscow.
EU envoys will discuss the wider target list for existing sanctions on Thursday.
Some diplomats said EU leaders may hold a special summit to take a final decision on wider economic measures. One said a meeting was "highly likely" next week.
The next scheduled summit is due on Aug. 30 but Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said the decision could also be taken by ministers or by an exchange of letters.
Several ministers called for an arms embargo on Russia to try to stem a flow of weapons that is fueling the conflict, including surface-to-air missiles suspected of bringing down the airliner. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said any such ban would only apply to future contracts.