EU sanctions Ukraine separatists, holds off on Russia

The European Union has imposed fresh sanctions on Ukrainian separatists, but is holding back on new sanctions against Russia.  Decision by EU foreign ministers taken amid deepening tensions between the West and Russia.

European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels agreed to target more Ukrainian separatists for travel bans and asset freezes.  But they are divided over whether to toughen sanctions against Moscow.

The United States and the European Union have already imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia for its role in the conflict in Ukraine.

The new EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, says if the conditions are right, she will visit Moscow for talks on how to end the standoff.  She says the 27-member block wants a broad dialogue with Russia.

“Russia is for sure part of the problem, but is also part of the solution, of the possible solution to the crisis.  How to engage in a dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow, between Kyiv and the east of the Ukraine, between the European Union and Russia – not only on Ukraine but also on a wide series of global regional issues,” said Mogherini.

The European Union is also calling for Ukraine to commit to more political and economic reforms.

‘We strongly believe this combination of three elements – attempts to have a political engagement, economic pressure with sanctions and support, and ask for a commitment on the Ukrainian side for internal reforms – could lead to the way to some positive developments that at the moment are definitely not there,’ she said.

Relations between the West and Russia are at their lowest point in years.  Moscow has deported several European diplomats in recent days, and Russian President Vladimir Putin received a cool welcome from his Western counterparts at the G20 summit in Australia.

Earlier Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned the effects of regional conflicts could quickly broaden into what she called “major fires.”

Germany has just marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a symbolic end to the Cold War.  Meanwhile, President Putin said neither Ukrainian separatists nor Ukrainian government troops were fully abiding by a truce signed in September, but said peace is still possible.


(Photo: Sébastien Bertrand)