BRUSSELS — European Union ambassadors meeting for a second day in Brussels on Thursday afternoon entered what officials said would be their last round of negotiations to approve a fifth package of sanctions against Russia, having dragged out the talks longer than expected, and inserting important limitations to the new measures.
The lengthy deliberations and watering down of some measures highlighted that the bloc’s appetite for fresh sanctions, which are increasingly hurting European economies, was diminishing, even in the wake of wrenching images of slaughter in Ukraine as Russian troops withdrew from areas around Kyiv to focus their offensive in the country’s east.
Demands by Ukraine to expand sanctions to Russian oil and gas, which the United States supports, are meeting profound resistance by E.U. countries heavily reliant on Russian energy.
A ban on Russian coal imports, an important, $4.4 billion measure that would especially hurt Germany, would be phased in over four months, instead of the three originally proposed by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, according to E.U. diplomats familiar with the evolution of the talks. Germany and Bulgaria had been advocating for a longer transition period into the coal ban to wind down existing contracts.