Barroso says EU leaders to 'meet soon' on Ukraine

BERLIN - European leaders plan to meet "very soon" to discuss the Russia-Ukraine crisis, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said on Monday.

He also said the EU was preparing in consulation with the IMF a package of financial support for Ukraine, which risks a catastrophic debt default.

Barroso told reporters in Berlin that after an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels Monday, the heads of state and government would meet to draw up a "common response".

"We have already expressed our very serious concerns" about the crisis, in which pro-Russian forces have taken control of Ukraine's strategic geCrimea peninsula, he said, adding that the "situation has not improved".

"We are working with all member states to have a common, firm response to those developments."

Barroso said there had been many contacts with Ukrainian and Russian authorities and that it was "important to show our commitment to the sovereignty of Ukraine".

Addressing Ukraine's dire economic and financial situation, he said: "We are now preparing a package of support to Ukraine" in consultation with the IMF.

"Myself and the European Commission are preparing some options for supporting Ukraine," Barroso said.

"There are some difficulties on that country to which we have to respond through emergency measures in the economic field... but also politically... to avoid escalation and lack of respect of sovereignty".

Barroso said the European Union remains willing to offer Ukraine political association and economic integration through association and trade agreements.