EU agrees targeted sanctions on Ukraine

Gilmore says he expects list of individuals to be agreed by end of the week

Eamon Gilmore: “The decision was made unanimously. We are targeting specifically people who are responsible for the violence.”

Eamon Gilmore: “The decision was made unanimously. We are targeting specifically people who are responsible for the violence.”


The European Union unanimously agreed to impose financial and travel sanctions on individuals in Ukraine yesterday, as the death toll in Kiev continued to climb.

As the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland remained in Kiev last night in a bid to hammer out a deal with Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, the remaining EU ministers voted unanimously to back restrictive measures at an emergency meeting in Brussels.

This includes visa bans and asset freezes on specific individuals deemed responsible for the violence. A suspension of export licences on equipment that may be used as instruments of repression will also be imposed.

Speaking after the foreign affairs meeting, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said he expected the list of individuals to whom the restrictions will apply to be agreed by the end of the week.

“The decision was made unanimously. We are targeting specifically people who are responsible for the violence,” the Tánaiste said. “The intention is that the scale of those sanctions will be applied on a progressive basis as the situation develops in Ukraine.”

The focus will now be on whether Mr Yanukovich and his family will be on the final list, amid calls from some countries that communication with the Ukrainian president should remain open.

Mr Gilmore said ministers were regularly updated by the French, German and Polish foreign ministers during the course of the meeting. Those ministers flew to Kiev yesterday morning for meetings with Mr Yanukovich and opposition leaders.

Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said the Ukrainian side had shown a willingness to consider elections this year during the meeting, with the possibility of a temporary government being established. The need for a new constitution was also discussed.

Opposition leaders said last night they hoped a “roadmap” could be agreed between the EU foreign ministers and the Ukrainian president.

The imposition of targeted sanctions on Ukraine marks a new departure for the European Union. Burned by the experience of Belarus, where sanctions and restrictive measures on the president has achieved little in advancing relationships between the EU and its eastern neighbour, EU member states had been reluctant to impose sanctions on the Ukrainian government.

But the escalation of violence in Kiev in the last 48 hours prompted EU foreign ministers to back restrictive measures. While unanimous political agreement was secured for the restrictions yesterday, EU officials will now set about drawing up a list of individuals who meet specified criteria, in liaison with the EU’s mission in Kiev.

Unlike Britain, Ireland did not summon the Ukrainian ambassador to Dublin yesterday. However, the Department of Foreign Affairs was in constant contact with the Ukrainian embassy in Dublin, Mr Gilmore said. “We have diplomatic relations with Ukraine. I think it is important that those relations are kept open. Part of what we need to do here is to try and get things moving forward.”

Speaking in Brussels yesterday, British foreign secretary William Hague said London had summoned the Ukrainian ambassador “to register our emphatic protest”.

“There is widespread horror in the European Union as well as in the United Kingdom at the scale of the loss of innocent life and the events of the last 48 hours,” he said.