Ukraine crisis: EU considers further economic sanctions against Russia

Foreign Ministers agree at Luxembourg meeting to expand list of people under travel bans


The European Union could impose deep and debilitating economic sanctions against Russia next week unless talks in the coming days result in an acceptable diplomatic solution to the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, France’s Foreign Minister warned on Monday.

The EU’s 28 foreign ministers met in Luxembourg yesterday tasked with trying to find a united approach to Russia’s alleged role in the storming of government buildings in eastern Ukraine. While they agreed to expand a list of people under travel bans and assets freezes, the bloc has yet to agree on the actions that would trigger the next phase of sanctions against Russia, or what they would be.

Instead the focus shifted to Thursday’s meeting between Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine, which appears to be the last-ditch effort to pressure Moscow to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine.

“The goal is to show firmness while keeping a dialogue open,” France’s Laurent Fabius said, adding that they wanted Russia to address “fundamental questions” at the meeting. “If it is necessary, there may be a meeting of heads of state and government next week... which may adopt new sanctions.”

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said after the meeting that the ministers “condemned unreservedly” recent events in Ukraine and confirmed that they were going to start considering who else to add to the existing list of 33 Russian and Ukrainian officials targeted after Russia annexed Crimea.

Those sanctions have so far had little impact on Moscow’s ambitions in Ukraine. Russian officials have strongly denied orchestrating the seizures of government buildings by militia in eastern Ukraine but Nato and EU officials have pointed out similarities between their uniforms and those worn by Russian troops in Crimea shortly before the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula. The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, went into the meeting in Luxembourg asserting that events over the past few days in eastern Ukraine had been planned by Russia and had “all the appearances of a further gross, deliberate and premeditated violation of the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine”. Such actions needed a strong and united rebuke from the EU, he said. “ Further sanctions have to be the response to Russia’s behaviour,” he told reporters.

Read more: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
Analysis: Both sides in the conflict lay claim to the truth

There was more caution from countries including Germany and Luxembourg, whose ministers stressed that all the diplomatic channels should be exhausted before serious economic sanctions are imposed.

Most governments agree that any movement of Russian troops over the border – where Nato reports that tens of thousands of soldiers are massing – would be a clear escalation of the situation. Whether Russia arming or supporting Ukrainian rebels or sending in undercover agents would represent such a trigger remains under discussion.

Washington has so far taken a stronger line on Russia, with calls this week for a united approach with Europe on deeper sanctions. An adviser to the Secretary of State, John Kerry, also said yesterday that they could consider supplying weapons to the Ukrainian government, with Thomas Shannon saying they were “looking into that as an option”. The director of the CIA, John Brennan, was in Kiev at the weekend but the White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted it was a routine visit.

A US military official also revealed that a Russian fighter jet had flown close to an American warship in the Black Sea on Saturday, calling it “provocative and unprofessional”.

Indirect action: How might the west fight back?

Underway: Asset freezes and visa bans

William Hague yesterday announced plans to expand sanctions. Visa bans and asset freezes have already been placed on 33 Ukrainian and Russians, including members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

Exclusion from negotiating tables worldwide

EU leaders have joined counterparts in cancelling a G8 summit scheduled with Russia in June. Brussels has suspended talks with Moscow on a visa liberalisation scheme.

Likely: Trade suspensions 

France, which has suspended most of its military cooperation with Russia, must decide whether to sell two Mistral-class helicopter assault ships, the first of which is due for delivery in October. French officials have said that cancelling the €1.2bn (£990m) contract could only happen as part of a broader package of EU sanctions.

Unlikely: Military action

An option, though extremely unlikely. With events so delicately poised and a vast disconnect between statements from the Kremlin and events on the ground in the Eastern Ukraine, few will want to start ratcheting up a military threat.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map