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

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.