EU to discuss freezing Russian assets
UK among countries expected to call for asset freezes at emergency meeting
Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the situation in Ukraine as “dangerous”. Photograph: EPA/Julien Warnand
European foreign ministers will consider imposing targeted asset freezes on Russia at
an emergency meeting in Brussels today. With the crisis in Crimea escalating, on Saturday EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton convened an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers, the second such emergency meeting in 10 days.
A number of countries, including the United Kingdom, are expected to call for certain asset freezes to be imposed. Yesterday, US secretary of state John Kerry said Russia could be isolated economically by G8 countries and others as a result of its “act of aggression” in Crimea. This could include the imposition of asset freezes, visa bans and trade penalties, he said. But with the European Union a strong trading partner of Russia, and Russia supplying about a third of the bloc’s gas supply, many states will be wary of aggravating relations.
The European Union’s attendance at June’s G8 summit in Sochi is likely to be discussed by ministers following the decision by a number of countries including Britain, Canada and the US to pull out of the conference. The EU’s top officials typically attend G8 summits. France yesterday called for the June summit to be cancelled.
Separately, Nato held an emergency meeting at its Brussels headquarters yesterday following a request by Ukraine, which is not in the organisation.
Relations between Ukraine and the organisation are governed by a bilateral treaty dating from 1997 which states that Nato allies “support Ukrainian sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity” and also “the principle of inviolability of frontiers”.
Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the situation in Ukraine as “dangerous”. Speaking ahead of the meeting of Nato ambassadors, the former Danish prime minister said Russia’s actions “threatens peace and security in Europe. Russia must stop its military activities and its threats,” he added.
The escalating events in Crimea over the weekend prompted a flurry of international responses in the past 48 hours. During a 90-minute phone call with Russian president Vladamir Putin on Saturday, US president Barack Obama urged Russia to move its troops back to their bases in Ukraine while US representative to the United Nations Samantha Power told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council that the situation in Crimea was “as dangerous as it is destabilising”.