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EU Foreign Ministers special meeting on Ukraine in Brussels: towards EU sanctions against ‘those responsible for the violence’

Written by Yossi Lempkowicz
Thursday, 20 February 2014 15:52
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EU Foreign Ministers held Thursday in Brussels an extraordinary meeting on the situation in Ukraine.

BRUSSELS (EJP)---As new violent clashes erupted in Kiev, the EU is threatening targeted sanctions against Ukranian officials they hold responsible for the violence that has killed at least 28 people and injured more than 200.

EU Foreign Ministers held Thursday in Brussels an extraordinary meeting on the situation in Ukraine while in Washington, the US announced that it had imposed visa travel bans on around 20 senior members of the Ukrainian government as a first step towards a broader package of sanctions.

According to official sources, EU sanctions being considered include further visa restrictions on senior Ukrainian officials close to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich who are thought to be responsible for the violence, as well as the possible freezing of assets.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said EU member states have a broad consensus for a possible decision on the introduction of targeted sanctions against certain officials in Ukraine. He said: "We cannot forget the images of the last few days and the tragic deaths and injuries of so many people. This is why the Foreign Affairs Council will meet today to discuss the adoption of targeted measures against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force... I am happy to see that there is now a broad consensus among our member states in the way to deal with this issue.''

Barroso said that now the top priority for the EU and Ukraine was to stop bloodshed for the sake of saving human lives.

Poland’s Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, was quoted as saying Wednesday that “we will impose some sanctions tomorrow in Brussels.”

But he said it was unclear whether sanctions would be imposed on Mr. Yanukovych himself. “After all, he’s still the democratically elected president, large numbers voted for him and he still controls the situation, though he’s made a complete mess of it,” Sikorski said.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland said hat he would make the case for immediate measures against those who provoked the escalation that has left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.

“We Poles will not remain indifferent to these events, because we know that the developments in Ukraine will decide the history and the future of the whole region, and thus also influences the future and the security of Poland,” he said.

Clashes between between anti-government protesters and police forces are the worst violence seen in Ukraine since the country gained its independence in the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich announced Wednesday what he said was a “truce” with opposition leaders, enabling “the start to negotiations with the aim of ending bloodshed, and stabilising the situation in the state in the interests of social peace”.

One of the opposition leaders, Arseny Yatseniuk, said in a separate statement: “A truce has been declared. The main thing is to protect human life,” he said.

But new deadly clashes erupted Thursday in the Ukrainian capital.T

he standoff began on November 21 when  President Yanukovych pulled out of a free-trade agreement with the European Union, opting instead for Russian aid and cheaper gas furniture.

The opposition is seeking to overturn constitutional changes strenghtening the president's powers and wants to put Ukraine on a path toward EU membership.




















Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 18:07


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