BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union could expand its sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis as early as next week, by targeting more people and companies with asset freezes, if Ukrainian rebels do not act to de-escalate tensions, diplomats said on Monday.
"That's possible. If there is no movement, member states could look at imposing new sanctions in the coming week," one EU diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Two other diplomats confirmed his assessment.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Friday said they expected Ukrainian rebels to agree by Monday to a verification mechanism for a ceasefire and the effective control of the border, return three border checkpoints to Ukrainian authorities, release hostages and launch substantive negotiations on implementing President Petro Poroshenko's peace plan.
EU governments will likely assess the situation after the Monday deadline expires and decide whether more sanctions were needed, diplomats said.
However, they said any immediate response would likely amount to adding new names to the existing sanctions list, rather than imposing more far-reaching economic measures. That would only decided when EU leaders meet next, possibly in mid-July.
(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; editing by Adrian Croft)