BRUSSELS, April 1 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union should refrain from introducing broad economic sanctions against Russia if the situation around Ukraine does not deteriorate, European Commission Vice President Olli Rehn said Tuesday.
"No sensible European would want to see economic sanctions or any other escalation to the crisis. And in case Russia will not escalate the crisis, then we shall be able to avoid these sanctions," Rehn said.
After Crimea held a referendum on March 16 in which over 96 percent of voters supported seceding from Ukraine and rejoining Russia, the US and EU imposed targeted sanctions against a number of senior Russian officials.
The West has repeatedly warned Russia of economic pressure and international isolation if tensions over Ukraine continue to escalate.
Many European countries are reluctant to push for further sanctions, partly because they depend heavily on natural gas deliveries from Russia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was asked last week whether Germans were prepared to accept the potential pain of possible economic sanctions against Russia, said she hoped the threat of economic restrictions would be enough to prevent a further escalation of tensions.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said last month that talking to Russia in the language of sanctions is "inappropriate and counterproductive" and warned its Western partners about the "boomerang effect" that sanctions would have on the West.