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March 06, 2014 AT 7:30 AM
European Union leaders were poised Thursday to impose sanctions on Russia to protest its military incursion into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, according to European officials. The Brussels talks came as the U.S. government piled its own pressure on Russia, and lawmakers in Crimea declared their intention to split from Ukraine and join Russia instead. A senior diplomat said the bloc's leaders were considering suspending talks with Russia on a wide-ranging economic agreement and on granting Russian citizens visa-free travel within the 28-nation bloc, a goal that Moscow has been pursuing for years. But European leaders were unlikely to take more drastic steps like freezing assets and imposing travel bans on Russian officials.