"Military aggression should never be the answer"

Belgian key ministers met on Tuesday to discuss the situation in the Ukraine. The government is concerned about the situation in the southern Crimea region, but retains hopes of a peaceful outcome. Meanwhile, Belgium is not taking any individual sanctions yet against Russia.

Belgium joins the European position on the matter. Diplomacy is the key word, the crisis should be solved by negotiating and not by military action. "It is obvious that the European Union could never accept that kind of violation of the Ukraine's territorial integrity. Each country has the right to strive for democracy. But military action can never an answer to this", Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo told reporters.

"We strongly condemn the Russian intervention and demand that the Russian troops return to their barracks. We also demand that respect is being paid to the rights of minority groups and their protection in Russia and the Ukraine."

Mr Di Rupo agreed with Barack Obama that "Russia is on the wrong side of history" in the matter. It is possible that the EU will take sanctions if there is no solution. The situation is being monitored on a permanent basis. It is not yet clear whether Belgium will take individual sanctions against Russia, such as freezing Russian assets in Belgium. Foreign Minister Didier Reynders did not make any clear statements on this, but did say that a distinction should be made with Russian companies.

Mr Di Rupo added that 8 percent of natural consumption in Belgium comes from Russian supplies.