Sanction list expands as Ukraine crisis escalates

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has condemned attempts by armed pro-Russian separatists to destabilise Ukraine, describing the situation as "extremely worrying".

By Kayleigh Rose Lewis

15 Apr 2014

In response to the escalating crisis Ashton announced that EU defence ministers had agreed to expand the list of individuals affected by sanctions and had also provided a package of economic and financial proposals to support Ukraine.

Speaking following the foreign affairs council meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, Ashton said, "We condemn unreservedly the actions by armed individuals in the cities of Eastern Ukraine. These attempts at destabilising Ukraine must stop.

"We strongly support the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We call upon Russia to do so as well and to pull back its troops from the Ukrainian border. Any further actions aimed at destabilising Ukraine have to stop."

She explained, "Utmost restraint is crucial and we commend the Ukrainian authorities for pursuing their law and order operations in a measured manner and we encourage the government in Kyiv to contribute further to reducing tensions.

"We condemn unreservedly the actions by armed individuals in the cities of Eastern Ukraine. These attempts at destabilising Ukraine must stop"

Speaking about the upcoming elections, Ashton said, "Free and fair presidential elections on 25 May are the best way to express the will of the citizens, as is the process of constitutional reform. We will continue to support the efforts to stabilise the situation in Ukraine economically, financially and politically.

"With this in mind, we have today approved two key measures in the package of proposals aimed at providing economic and financial support to Ukraine."

"First, a decision providing up to €1bn in macro-financial assistance to Ukraine to support economic stabilisation and its structural reform agenda. Secondly, a regulation granting unilateral trade preferences to Ukraine," which, according to the commission, could save Ukrainian exporters €500m in customs duties annually.

"In the meantime," she continued, "We will also look into a possible CSDP [common security and defence policy] mission in the field of civilian security sector reform. And ministers have asked the European commission to reply, on the basis of consultations with member states, to the letter of president Putin on energy supplies."

She said that the EU would also "continue its diplomatic engagement to try to de-escalate the crisis and stabilise the situation," adding, "It is crucial that Russia and Ukraine engage in a meaningful dialogue to find a political solution and we are ready to participate in the efforts to start this dialogue.

"I am in regular touch with the foreign ministers of the United States, Russia and Ukraine and will meet them this Thursday in Geneva. The purpose of this meeting is to start a dialogue on how to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and to ensure that peace and stability returns to the whole of Ukraine," she concluded.

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