Nato leaders agree tougher sanctions on Russia

Sanctions agreed at summit to include curbs on smaller energy companies

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday during the Nato summit in Newport, Wales. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga - Pool/Getty Images

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday during the Nato summit in Newport, Wales. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga - Pool/Getty Images


Tougher sanctions against Russia to penalise it for its actions in Ukraine will be announced by Nato leaders today, including curbs on smaller energy companies.

The move follows hours of discussions on the first day of the Nato summit in Newport in south Wales that was attended by the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. He met British prime minister David Cameron, US president Barack Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president François Hollande and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi.

Capital market restrictions Russian business will face further restrictions on Europe’s capital markets, where they will be prevented from securing 60- and 90-day debt, Downing Street sources said last night.

Curbs will be placed, too on some of Russia’s smaller energy companies, but not on the biggest, Gazprom: “We are trying to calibrate the response here,” The Irish Times was told.

Though far from complete, there are hopes that economic sanctions could being to bite on the Russian economy given the signs that the country’s financial markets are displaying jitters. However, time is running out. Winter is coming and Ukraine is desperately dependent on Russian gas to heat millions of homes – a lever that is certain to be used in the months ahead by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Casting doubt on Mr Putin’s intentions, Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen last night said he had “not taken one single step” to bring peace about.

“This is the first time since the second World War that one European country has tried to grab another’s territory by force. Europe must not turn away from the rule of law to the rule of the strongest,” he said.

Nato has agreed to supply Ukraine with logistics, command and control systems, cyber-defence and training but it did not need demands in some quarters to supply weaponry to the Ukrainians.

Opening the summit, Mr Rasmussen said the two-day gathering, attended by 60 world leaders and 4,000 delegates, was “one of the most important” in the organisation’s history.

“To the east, Russia is attacking Ukraine. To the southeast we see the rise of a terrorist organisation, Islamic State, that has committed horrific atrocities,” he said.

Talks will take place in the Belarus capital Minsk today in a bid to lay the groundwork for a solution to the Ukrainian crisis, Mr Poroshenko told a press conference last night. “Ukraine is fighting for peace, we did not instigate war. Ukrainians are the ones who are paying the highest price with the loss of life of soldiers and innocent civilians,” he said.

He said he would order a ceasefire today if an agreement could be reached in Minsk: “I want to do my best to stop the war.”

Mariupol shelled However, fighting continued even as Mr Poroshenko was meeting Nato, with reports that artillery shells had started to fall on Mariupol,

a strategically important town en route to the Crimea.

Mr Cameron and Mr Obama made a direct call on other Nato states to increase defence spending – which has fallen in nearly all countries as they coped with the post-2008 economic crisis.

Nato must keep military forces permanently in eastern Europe to reassure countries nervous of Russian might and to make clear to Moscow that Nato will honour its defence obligations.

However, Nato countries are not spending enough to defend themselves. “Britain and America are two of only four Nato members to meet the target of spending 2 per cent of our GDP on defence,” the leaders said.

“Other states must urgently step up their efforts to meet this too. This would send a powerful message to those that threaten us.”