European Union foreign ministers adopted on February 23 a package of measures to respond to the decision by Russia to proceed with the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine as “independent” entities, and the subsequent decision to send Russian troops into these areas.
Within the existing framework for sanctions, the EU will extend restrictive measures to cover all the 351 members of the Russian State Duma, who voted on February 15 in favour of the appeal to President Vladimir Putin to recognise the independence of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk ”republics”.
Targeted restrictive measures will be imposed on additional 27 high profile individuals and entities, who have played a role in undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, a statement by the Council of the EU said.
“These include decision makers such as members of the government, who were involved in the illegal decisions; banks and businesspersons/oligarchs supporting financially or materially Russian operations in the Donetsk and Luhansk’s territories, or benefitting from them; senior military officers, who played a role in the invasion and destabilisation actions; and individuals responsible for leading a disinformation war against Ukraine,” the statement said.
Restrictive measures include an asset freeze and a prohibition from making funds available to the listed individuals and entities. In addition, a travel ban applicable to the listed persons prevents these from entering or transiting through EU territory.
New measures will target trade from the two non-government controlled regions to and from the EU, to ensure that those responsible “clearly feel the economic consequences of their illegal and aggressive actions,” the statement said.
The February 23 decision will introduce in particular an import ban on goods from the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, restrictions on trade and investments related to certain economic sectors, a prohibition to supply tourism services, and an export ban for certain goods and technologies.
The statement said that the EU ministers had decided to introduce a sectoral prohibition to finance the Russian Federation, its government and central bank.
“By restraining the ability of the Russian state and government to access the EU’s capital and financial markets and services, the EU aims to limit the financing of escalatory and aggressive policies.”
In the statement, the EU urged Russia to reverse the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, uphold its commitments, abide by international law and return to the discussions within the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group.
“The EU also calls on other states not to follow Russia’s illegal decision to recognise this proclaimed independence.”
The statement said that the EU stands ready to swiftly adopt “more wide-ranging” political and economic sanctions in case of need, “and reiterates its unwavering support and commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders”.
The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons concerned, would be published soon in the Official Journal, the statement said. Reportedly, Putin’s name is not among those subject to this set of sanctions.
(Photo: Päivi Tiittanen)
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