EU foreign ministers agree on further sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on May 12, a day after two unrecognised “independence” referendums in eastern Ukraine, agreed on further sanctions against Russia over Moscow’s continued aggression towards Ukraine.

The EU foreign ministers expanded the criteria according to which individuals and entities will be subject to visa bans and asset freezes and added a new group of individuals and entities subject to sanctions.

“In light of the recent developments and in the absence of any steps towards de-escalation the
Council has agreed to expand the criteria allowing individuals and entities to be subject to visa ban and asset freeze,” the conclusions adopted by EU foreign ministers said.

“This will notably allow for the possible listing of natural persons responsible for actively supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, or stability or security in Ukraine, or which obstruct the work of international organisations in Ukraine, and natural or legal persons, entities or bodies associated with them, or legal persons, entities or bodies in Crimea or Sevastopol whose ownership has been transferred contrary to Ukrainian law, or legal persons, entities or bodies which have benefited from such a transfer.”

The European Union stands firm in upholding Ukraine’s unity, sovereignty, independence and
territorial integrity and calls upon Russia to do likewise, the EU foreign ministers’ conclusions said.

“The EU is alarmed by the continued efforts by pro-Russian separatists to destabilise Eastern and Southern Ukraine.

“Continued seizure of public buildings, kidnappings, killings and violation of media freedom by illegal armed groups is unacceptable and must stop. The EU will not recognise yesterday’s nor any future illegitimate and illegal ‘referenda’,” the statement said.

“The tragic events in Odessa of May 2 with many dead and injured must be thoroughly investigated and all those responsible brought to justice. The Council encourages the coverage of this investigation by the Council of Europe’s International Advisory Panel as a way to ensure its independence and transparency.” According to Bulgarian-language media reports, this passage was added at the insistence of Kristian Vigenin, foreign minister in the Bulgarian Socialist Party cabinet.

The EU said that it strongly supports the holding of free and fair Ukrainian Presidential elections on May 25, and called on all parties to do so, in order to overcome the crisis and allow the Ukrainian people to choose their own future.

It “took note” of recent statements on the issue by Russian president Vladimir Putin and said that it expected support for the holding of these elections.

The European Union reiterated its demand to Russia to call back its troops from the Ukrainian
border and to immediately withdraw the mandate of the Federation Council to use force on
Ukrainian soil.

It also condemned declarations and visits of high officials engaged in supporting illegal attempts at separatism and thus contributing to heightening tensions in Ukraine and other states in the region.

This was an apparent reference to, among other things, a May 9 visit to the non-state of Transnistria by Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, who claimed that the breakaway region from Moldova wanted, in effect, to follow the pathy of Crimea.

The Council condemns any attempt to circumvent the sanctions regime the statement said.

“The EU calls upon all sides for restraint and for an end to violence and provocations. The EU encourages the Ukrainian authorities to maintain their measured approach in pursuing law and order operations and calls on all sides to the conflict to contribute further to reducing tensions.”

(Photo of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton: Council of the EU)



The Sofia Globe staff

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