ATHENS, Greece — Britain’s foreign secretary on Friday urged European Union partners to develop possible further sanctions against Russia “if they become necessary,” while the top Russian diplomat ridiculed Ukraine’s interim government as a Western puppet.

“The West has taken on a role of the master of Ukraine’s fate while the country’s fledging government has not shown much independence so far,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

He blamed the crisis in Ukraine on the government’s lack of respect for the citizens’ rights and interests of different Ukrainian regions.

At the EU meeting in Athens, officials continued to worry about the large Russian military force on Ukraine’s border.

“It is really, really important that Russia shows that it is serious about de-escalation by moving troops back,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said as she arrived for the meeting.

“It’s very important for us to remain strong and united about the sanctions that we have implemented against individuals in Russia and Crimea, and to prepare more far-reaching measures if they become necessary,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said. No decision would be made at the two-day session in Athens, he added.


“This moment isn’t the moment for phase three of sanctions, but they have to be ready,” Hague said, “because the situation remains very dangerous, it remains very tense.”

The crisis in Ukraine tops the agenda at the informal foreign ministers’ meeting, which will also discuss Syria.

EU finance officials said earlier this week that the sanctions were slowing the Russian economy.

Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Friday that all the Ukrainian servicemen stationed in Crimea were allowed to leave for mainland Ukraine but 8,000 military men stayed and applied to join the Russian army.

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