Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has said that targeted sanctions should be imposed in Ukraine.
Arriving in Brussels this afternoon for an emergency meeting of foreign ministers, the Tánaiste said the time had come for the European Union take action in response to the events unfolding in Ukraine.
“I do believe that we need to take action. I think the situation has deteriorated quite dramatically over the course of the past week, and in particular over the past days [...]I think we have to consider sanctions and restrictive measures. “
While the Department of Foreign Affairs is in constant dialogue with the Ukrainian embassy in Dublin, the Tánaiste said, the department has not formally summoned the Ukrainian ambassador.
Britain today summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to London to register its “emphatic protest” at the unfolding events in Ukraine.
Arriving in Brussels, British foreign secretary William Haguethe British foreign secretary said" "utterly unacceptable and indefensible.
"The United Kingdom condemns these actions in the strongest possible terms. By permitting such actions to take place the Ukrainian government is putting itself at odds with reasonable opinion all across the world."
EU foreign ministers will be updated by the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland, who met with President Victor Yanukovich this morning in Kiev.
Among the measures to be discussed is the imposition of travel restrictions on specific individuals and the freezing of assets. While political agreement may be reached on imposing restrictions on individuals who meet specific criteria, it could take a number of days for the specific list to be drawn up.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the issue of an arms embargo is also under discussion.
“Among the measures we’re looking at is putting a ban on arms getting into Ukriane and ban on equipment that could be used for repressive measures in Ukraine, “ he said.
Ukraine’s involvement in peace-keeping missions with the European Union may complicate efforts to impose an arms embargo on the country.
The decision to impose restrictive measures on Ukraine, if taken by foreign ministers, will mark a distinctive shift in the EU’s response to the crisis.
Over the past few months, Lithuania and Sweden have been virtually alone in calling for sanctions on Ukraine, with most member states favouring a diplomatic approach to the crisis. But the escalation of violence, and the convening of an emergency meeting of foreign ministers, together with the visit of the three foreign ministers to Ukraine, means the EU is likely to impose restrictive measures including financial sanctions and travel restrictions.
It is just three months since the European Union was poised to sign an association agreement with Ukraine. The current unrest was sparked by the government’s shock decision in November to reject the agreement, which would have given the former Soviet republic access to EU trade and visa arrangements.
Negotiations between the European Union and Ukraine had been ongoing for almost five years, as part of the EU’s ‘Eastern Partnership’ policy which aims to deepen the European Union’s relations with six former Soviet Republics, the largest which is Ukraine.
Mr Gilmore said it was important to stress what Europe could do positively to try and move things forward with Ukraine, as well as responding firmly to the violence.
“We are very conscious of the fact that many people want to be part of the E Union and are looking to the E Union for assistance in these very difficult days.”