EU ministers agree to impose sanctions against Ukraine

An activist looks for a sniper through a burning tire barricade close to Independence Square, the epicentre of the country's current unrest, in Kiev, Ukraine on Thursday.  

The European Union (EU) foreign ministers on Thursday agreed to adopt sanctions against Ukraine, including asset freezes, visa bans and ban on exporting anti-riot equipments, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

The violence in Ukraine should be ended immediately and any further escalation should be avoided, Xinhua quoted Ms. Ashton saying in a press conference following the meeting, and adding that “those responsible for human rights violations should be brought to justice”.

The EU did not publish a blacklist, but Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino told media that all the restrictive measures will be imposed rapidly “in the next hours”.

Nearly all member states’ foreign ministers agreed on the sanctions on Ukraine, EU sources told Xinhua. The EU Foreign Affairs Council also made a decision to supply emergency medical aids to the violence-mired country.

Protests began in November in the country when the government backtracked on a trade deal with the EU.

Biden warns of sanctions

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden has warned the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych that America was prepared to impose sanctions on officials responsible for violence in Kiev.

Mr. Biden spoked to the Ukrainian leader over telephone and “made clear that the U.S. is prepared to sanction those officials responsible for the violence”, the White House said in a statement.

He called upon President Yanukovych to immediately pull back all security forces — police, snipers, military and paramilitary units, and irregular forces, it said.

“The Vice-President urged President Yanukovych to take immediate and tangible steps to work with the opposition on a path forward that addresses the legitimate aspirations of the Ukrainian people.”

Mr. Biden underscored that the U.S. supports an independent, democratic Ukraine that pursues the future its people choose.

The U.S. leader also called the Polish Prime Minister to consult on the situation in Ukraine.

They discussed steps the United States, Poland, and the European Union are taking to support an end to the violence and a political solution that is in the best interests of the Ukrainian people, the statement said.

In a late night statement, Secretary of State John Kerry asked the Ukrainian Government to stop violence.

“The violence must stop. We unequivocally condemn the use of force against civilians by security forces, and urge that those forces be withdrawn immediately,” Mr. Kerry said as he expressed his anger and anguish having watched renewed violence on the streets of Kiev.

“The people of Ukraine deserve far better than senseless death and suffering on the streets of one of Europe’s great cities,” he said adding that the people of Ukraine and the international community will hold to account those who are responsible for what has occurred.

The U.S. has already begun implementing sanctions through travel bans on Ukrainians responsible for the violence, he said.

Noting that protesters should exercise their rights peacefully, he urged the Ukrainian military to remain true to its non-political heritage and its professional traditions.

“There is no time for brinksmanship or gamesmanship. President Yanukovich must undertake serious negotiations with opposition leaders immediately to establish a new interim government that will have broad support,” he said.

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Printable version | May 19, 2021 7:27:12 AM |

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