The European Union on Thursday added another 12 names to an existing sanctions list of 21 high-ranking Russians and Crimeans, even as it drew a new red line for Russia, warning it of tougher economic sanctions should it breach the line.
The names on the list, said to include people who are within Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, are to be released later. “Some of them are really high-ranking,” said EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
This brings the total number of people against whom personal sanctions have been imposed to 33. Many of the names overlap with those on the list released on Thursday by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The announcement marks what German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called “stage two” in an ascending order of punitive measures against Russia.
Implicit in the threats of using stiffer measures against Russia lies a recognition of Crimea’s current status as part of Russia.
“If there are illegitimate claims, if there are troop operations, if there are threats, then there will be other sanctions,”
French President Francoise Holland warned on the eve of the summit.
His position found resonance in Ms. Merkel’s statement. “We will make very clear that in the case of further escalation we will be ready to introduce economic sanctions,” she said.
The EU Commission has been asked to ready a list of harsher economic measures to be imposed if and when required.
A new trade agreement with Ukraine is to be signed. The EU has also committed to increasing its aid package to Ukraine, to accompany an International Monetary Fund package that is under negotiation.
Bloomberg reports that the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, proposes adding 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) to a previously approved 610 million euros in budget support for Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the EU has called off an EU-Russia Summit scheduled for March 26 owing to the crisis.