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Ukraine crisis: EU and US impose sanctions over Crimea

Posted by Nuttapon_S On March - 17 - 2014

The EU and US have announced travel bans and asset freezes against a number of officials from Russia and Ukraine.

The moves follow Sunday’s referendum in Crimea, in which officials say 97% of voters backed breaking away from Ukraine and joining Russia.

The individuals targeted by the sanctions are seen as having played a key role in the referendum, which Kiev, the US and EU deem illegal.

Pro-Russian forces have been in control of Crimea since late February.

Moscow says the troops are pro-Russian self-defence forces and not under its direct control.

The crisis follows the ousting on 22 February of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych, who had sparked months of street protests by rejecting a planned EU trade deal in favour of closer ties with Moscow.

‘Mockery’

US President Barack Obama said in a press conference that Washington stood “ready to impose further sanctions” depending on whether Russia escalated or de-escalated the situation in Ukraine.

If Moscow continued to intervene in Ukraine, he warned, it would “achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world”.

The EU list of sanctions against 21 officials, which was agreed after a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels, is expected to be published later on Monday.

“We regret that Russia has so far not engaged in negotiations with Ukraine,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a press conference after the sanctions were announced.

Pro-Russian self-defence activist wearing a Russian flag as he walks on Sevastopol embankment on 17 March 2014.
Thousands celebrated the results of the referendum across the Crimean peninsula
Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians protest in Simferopol
But not everyone was satisfied, with many Crimean Tatars saying they want the peninsula to stay with Ukraine, fearing further deportations
Cossacks, pro-Russian activists, march to take part in a rally outside the regional state administration building in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on 17 March 2014.Pro-Russian activists have also taken to the streets in the south-eastern city of Donetsk in recent days

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters the list was not “set in stone”.

He said this depends on “how Russia reacts to the referendum in Crimea which has been a mockery of any real democracy, and how they are reacting to the possibility of discussions and direct negotiations with Ukraine over the coming days”.

The US said it had targeted seven top Russian government officials and lawmakers and four Crimea-based separatist leaders with financial sanctions for undermining “democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine”.

The officials include Sergei Aksyonov, the acting leader of Crimea; Dmitry Rogozin, a Russian deputy prime minister; and Valentina Matviyenko, head of the upper house of the Russian parliament. The ousted Ukrainian leader, Viktor Yanukovych, was also on the list.

“Today’s actions send a strong message to the Russian government that there are consequences for their actions that violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including their actions supporting the illegal referendum for Crimean separation,” the White House said in a statement.

The EU has also shown its support for Ukraine by announcing it will temporarily remove customs duties on Ukrainian exports to the EU.

Separately, the authorities in Kiev say they have recalled their ambassador to Moscow for consultation, over the situation in Crimea.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya has welcomed the EU’s decision to impose sanctions.

He told the BBC: “I think it’s a step forward in mobilising the international community and confronting the Russian decision to violate international order and international laws. Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine.”

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is on the US sanctions list, says the measures will not affect those who do not have assets abroad, Reuters reports

“Comrade Obama, and what will you do with those who have neither accounts nor property abroad? Or didn’t you think of that?” Mr Rogozin wrote on Twitter.

‘Contact group’

Monday’s sanctions came hours after Crimea’s parliament declared the region an independent state, following Sunday’s referendum.

According to the parliamentary vote, Ukrainian laws now no longer apply in the region, and all Ukrainian state property belongs to an independent Crimea.

The peninsula will adopt the Russian currency, the rouble, and clocks will move two hours forward to Moscow time by the end of March.

The document approved by MPs also appealed to “all countries of the world” to recognise Crimean independence.

The government in Kiev has said it will not recognise the results of the referendum.

Russia earlier proposed the formation of an international “contact group” to mediate in the crisis and seek changes in the constitution that would require Ukraine to uphold military and political neutrality.

But the authorities in Kiev have dismissed the proposal as “absolutely unacceptable”, Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Yevhen Perebynis told Interfax Ukraine news agency.

Meanwhile, the parliament in Kiev has formally approved the partial mobilisation of 40,000 reservists and says it is monitoring the situation along the eastern border with Russia.

Map of Crimea

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