EU to Adopt Russia Sanctions as Crimea Crisis Deepens
Brussels – European Union foreign ministers will agree sanctions on around 20 people in Russia and Crimea on Monday, ministers and officials said, with the possibility of adding further names to the list when EU leaders meet later in the week. Those targeted in the first phase will include politicians responsible for calling for and organizing Sunday’s referendum in Crimea, when 97 percent of voters decided to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. The EU says the referendum was illegal and does not recognize the result.
“We are talking approximately about 20 people,” Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek told reporters, saying the list was focused on “political individuals” behind events in Crimea, not on business people. “This is to be the first set and I would not rule out that this list can be widened at the next meeting of the Council,” he said, referring to the EU summit on Thursday and Friday.
European officials have said they are determined to hit Russia for its actions in Crimea, imposing sanctions including travel bans and asset freezes on those responsible. The United States is expected to take similar steps on Monday. However, EU sanctions require unanimity among all 28 member states and there are several countries, including Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Spain and Portugal that have reservations about moving too quickly.
As a result, Monday’s move is not expected to be as far-reaching as initially hoped. At the end of last week, the EU had drawn up a master list of 120-130 names for possible sanctions, which has now been whittled down to around 20. There are few signs that the threat of sanctions is having an impact on the ground in Crimea or on Russia. (Reuters)