G7 and EU threaten further sanctions on Russia

‘Prompt, full, unimpeded and transparent’ international investigation demanded

The headquarters of Bank of Moscow, one of the Russian banks targeted by EU sanctions. Photograph: AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

The headquarters of Bank of Moscow, one of the Russian banks targeted by EU sanctions. Photograph: AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 01:00

In a joint statement last night, leaders of the G7 – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, along with the EU – issued a joint statement warning that they remain ready to “further intensify the costs” against Russia if it fails to act.

The statement said: “We condemn the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the deaths of 298 innocent civilians. We demand a prompt, full, unimpeded and transparent international investigation. We call upon all sides to establish, maintain and fully respect a ceasefire at and around the crash site, as demanded by UN Security Council resolution 2166, so that the investigators can take up their work and to recover the remains of all victims and their personal possessions.

“This terrible event should have marked a watershed in this conflict, causing Russia to suspend its support for illegal armed groups in Ukraine, secure its border with Ukraine, and stop the increasing flow of weapons, equipment and militants across the border in order to achieve rapid and tangible results in de-escalation. Regrettably, however, Russia has not changed course.”

The leaders underlined calls for a political solution to the conflict and called for a sustainable ceasefire.

The EU has frozen the assets of Russian oligarchs Arkady Rotenberg and Yury Kovalchuk as part of its effort to end Mr Putin’s support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Mr Rotenberg, who helps control SMP Bank and InvestCapitalBank OAO, and Mr Kovalchuk, the biggest shareholder in OAO Bank Rossiya, are among eight people that the EU added yesterday to its blacklist of individuals and organizations being punished for the Ukrainian unrest.

Three entities – Russian National Commercial Bank, weapons maker Almaz-Antey and airline Dobrolet – were also added, according to the new list published in the EU’s Official Journal.

The widening of blacklist targets reflects “the gravity of the situation in Ukraine,” the EU said.

The EU is hardening its stance against Russia after a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down in an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian rebels on July 17th. The crash killed all 298 people aboard, who were mainly from the Netherlands. Sanctions already announced have intensified a sell-off in the ruble and capital flight from Russia amid its worst standoff with the US and its allies since the Cold War, pushing the economy to the brink of recession.

In addition to broadening the scope of blacklisted people and organisations, the EU is seeking to undermine strategic parts of Russia’s economy to protest at Mr Putin’s policy toward Ukraine.

On July 29th, it decided to prohibit state-owned Russian banks from selling shares or bonds in Europe, curbed the export of equipment to modernise the oil industry and banned sales of arms and civilian goods with military uses.

People on the EU blacklist face asset freezes and travel bans, while companies on it are barred through asset freezes from doing business in the EU. – (Agencies)