OREANDA-NEWS. New sanctions against Russia over the situation around Ukraine should be aimed at the countries' immediate leaders. German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said this in an interview with the German publication Bild.

"It is clear that the aggressor is Russia. We must take every opportunity to stop the situation from escalating. This includes the imposition of tough sanctions. At the moment we must target Putin and his entourage,"- the minister stressed, adding that those responsible for the aggression must feel the consequences for themselves.

She expressed concern about Russia's military build-up near Ukraine's borders. Lambrecht said this was why she chose Lithuania, the location of the NATO rapid reaction force, for her first trip as head of the German Defence Ministry, to find out how the situation was seen there.

When asked about the readiness to send Bundeswehr troops to Ukraine, the Defence Minister said that all possibilities of diplomacy and economic sanctions must be used. She stressed that all further actions should be agreed in NATO.

On 17 December, the European Union unanimously decided to extend economic sanctions against Russia. European Council President Charles Michel said that the EU urged Russia to "implement its part of the deal and adhere to the Minsk agreements". Furthermore, he stressed that in case of a "military invasion" of Ukraine, Russia would face "massive consequences and a severe price".