European Union leaders on Saturday chose Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to chair their Council and named Italian Federica Mogherini to run the bloc’s foreign relations, as the EU prepared to threaten Russia with new sanctions over Ukraine.
EU summit chairman Herman Van Rompuy said this evening in a Twitter message that leaders had chosen Federica Mogherini to succeed incumbent Catherine Ashton in November.
The decision comes as the crisis at the EU’s eastern border pitting Ukraine against Russia poses one of the biggest foreign policy challenges for the union in decades.
Mogherini, a 41-year-old center-left politician, has been Italy’s Foreign Minister only since February, drawing criticism that she lacks experience.
The EU leaders also elected Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to succeed European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in December as EU summit chairman and behind-the-scenes broker of compromises among national leaders.
The Polish premier, who speaks neither English or French, overcame a personal clash with Britain’s David Cameron over migration policy to become favorite for the job.
With leaders unnerved by Russia’s latest actions in Ukraine, the nomination of Tusk will send a firm message to Moscow.