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EU leaders threaten more anti-Russian sanctions over Ukraine as fighting in east rages

  • People light candles on Independence Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in solidarity with the victims of a rocket attack on the coastal city of Mariupol. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

    People light candles on Independence Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in solidarity with the victims of a rocket attack on the coastal city of Mariupol. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin wears special glasses as he visits a research facility of the St. Petersburg State University in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. In televised comments after a meeting with students in St. Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin said that Ukraine’s army was at fault for the increase in violence and accused it of using civilians as “cannon fodder” in the conflict. “(Ukraine’s army) is not even an army, it’s a foreign legion, in this case a foreign NATO legion,” Putin said. “They have totally different goals, connected to the geopolitical containment of Russia, which absolutely do not coincide with the national interests of the Ukrainian people.” (AP Photo/RIA Novosti Kremlin, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin wears special glasses as he visits a research facility of the St. Petersburg State University in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. In televised comments after a meeting with students in St. Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin said that Ukraine’s army was at fault for the increase in violence and accused it of using civilians as “cannon fodder” in the conflict. “(Ukraine’s army) is not even an army, it’s a foreign legion, in this case a foreign NATO legion,” Putin said. “They have totally different goals, connected to the geopolitical containment of Russia, which absolutely do not coincide with the national interests of the Ukrainian people.” (AP Photo/RIA Novosti Kremlin, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)  (The Associated Press)

European Union leaders are threatening fresh sanctions against Russia because of what it sees as "growing support" of Moscow for separatists in eastern Ukraine during intensified fighting over the past days.

In Tuesday's rare joint declaration outside their regular summit meetings, the 28 leaders asked an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers on Thursday "to consider any appropriate action, in particular on further restrictive measures" if the situation in eastern Ukraine does not improve fast.

The European Union has imposed a series of economic and political sanctions on Moscow and officials linked with last year's annexation of Ukraine's southern Crimea peninsula.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Ukrainian army a "NATO foreign legion," reflecting his readiness to stand up to the West regardless of rising economic costs.