EU agrees to new sanctions against pro-Russians in Ukraine

EU agrees to new sanctions against pro-Russians in Ukraine

Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:24PM GMT

Foreign ministers of the European Union have agreed to impose further sanctions against pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, European diplomats say.

The EU foreign ministers are meeting in the Belgian capital, Brussels, amid fresh fighting in Ukraine’s volatile east despite a September ceasefire between Kiev and pro-Moscow forces.

According to the diplomats, the bloc’s ministers have agreed to hit more pro-Russians with asset freezes and travel bans.

The talks may also include further sanctions against Russia over Ukraine’s crisis.

EU’s new foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said on Monday that the door must be kept open to Moscow, adding, “We will for sure discuss sanctions. But sanctions in themselves are not an objective. They can be an instrument if they come together with other measures.”

She noted that the bloc had to find “a complete strategy” which would push Ukraine to make reforms, particularly over restoring “civilian security.”

The potential EU sanctions will come as Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 15 warned that the Western bans imposed on his country over the crisis in Ukraine will backfire.

The Russian president added that curbing Russian access to capital markets would damage Western exports.

In recent months, Western states have imposed sanctions on Russia, including on its financial and energy sectors, and put a number of Russian nationals close to President Putin under sanctions.

In a tit-for-tat measure, Moscow imposed year-long food bans on the US, the EU, Australia, Canada and Norway in August. The move is estimated to cost European agricultural industries millions of dollars in damages.

The West accuses Moscow of having a hand in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, which erupted when Kiev launched military operations in mid-April to silence pro-Russia protests there. However, the Kremlin denies the accusation.

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