The European Union said on Thursday it was freezing the assets of 18 people suspected of misappropriating Ukrainian state money including toppled president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled Kiev last month.
Any assets the individuals have in the EU are to be frozen, and there are also provisions in place facilitating the recovery of the frozen funds, the EU governments said.
EU leaders convening at an extraordinary summit later on Thursday in Brussels were set to consider possible action against Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine, amid mounting tensions between Moscow and the West.
“This is the first time since many years that we have the perception in Europe of a real threat to our stability and even to peace in this continent,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told journalists on Wednesday.
Russia agreed during talks on Wednesday in Paris to continue negotiations with European countries and the United States on the turmoil in Crimea, but refused hold direct talks with the new Ukrainian government.
The Ukrainian Parliament removed the pro-Russian Yanukovych from office after months of protests and appointed an interim government lead by his pro-Western opponents.