EU agrees to expand targeted sanctions on Russia

Move comes after US steps up response to Ukraine crisis

A Ukrainian soldier  guards a checkpoint near the village of Salkovo, in the Kherson region adjacent to Crimea. Photograph: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

A Ukrainian soldier guards a checkpoint near the village of Salkovo, in the Kherson region adjacent to Crimea. Photograph: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

Fri, Mar 21, 2014, 06:18

The EU last night agreed to expand targeted sanctions on Russia after the US stepped up its response to the crisis in Ukraine by imposing sanctions on individuals close to President Vladimir Putin. The US also threatened deeper sanctions that would hurt Russia’s energy sector.

EU leaders agreed to add 12 names to the list of 21 individuals named on Monday, but stopped short of endorsing broader economic sanctions, known as Phase Three measures. The identities of the individuals targeted for travel bans and asset freezes will be published this afternoon.

The US decision to step up its response increased pressure on the EU to act, despite divisions between member states on the scale of the sanctions required.

Additional and far-reaching measures

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso confirmed that the European Commission has also been instructed to prepare additional targeted measures that could be deployed against Russia should the situation de-escalate. Any further steps by Russia would lead to “additional and far-reaching measures,” he said.

European Council president Herman Van Rompuy said that the Commission had already begun working on possible target measures, which would involve “broad economic” sanctions.

Agreement with Ukraine

Mr Barroso stressed that the European Union was committed to show “strong and united determination” regarding Ukraine, and will sign the political chapters of the association agreement with Ukraine today.

The EU also brought forward the date for signing an association agreement with Georgia and Moldova.

Leaving the European Council building last night, British prime minister David Cameron said that the decision taken by EU leaders would send “a clear strong and consistent measure [TO RUSSIA]” “If there is further destabilisation in Ukraine then there should be further wide-ranging measures taken. We have agreed tonight that we will task the European Commission to draw up those possible measures. That is progress.”


Taoiseach’s reaction
On his way into the meeting, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Ireland supported expanding the list of individuals to which sanctions should be applied.

While sources in Brussels indicated that Ireland was one of the stronger voices on the need to increase sanctions on Russia, the Taoiseach refused to be drawn on whether Ireland favoured Phase Three sanctions.

“Ireland supports the questions of sanctions against individuals,” said Mr Kenny. “The question of moving to a further phase of broader sanctions is one that the European Council took at the last meeting on Ukraine, and it will be considered this evening.”


‘No place for force’
Announcing the new measures, Mr Van Rompuy said: “We will not recognise the annexation [of Crimea] nor recognise it in the future. There is no place for the use of force to change borders in Europe in the 21st century.”

The decision by the US to impose sanctions on 20 Russian and Crimean officials and Bank Rossiya, the country’s 17th-largest bank, prompted an immediate response. Russia announced sanctions against nine US officials and members of Congress, including House of Representatives speaker John Boehner, Senate Democratic majority leader Harry Reid and senior Republican senator John McCain.