EU imposes sanctions against Ukrainian officials
European Union foreign ministers have agreed to impose sanctions on Ukrainian officials “responsible for violence and excessive force” against pro-EU protesters.
In an emergency meeting in Brussels on Thursday, the 28-nation bloc decided to impose sanctions against those behind the violence, including visa bans, asset freezes and restrictions on the export of anti-riot equipment.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU wants all sides in Ukraine to engage in talks to find a political solution but noted that the prime responsibility lays on the Ukrainian government to start discussions.“The responsibility to stop the violence rests squarely with those in power, and we urge them to do so as fast as possible,” she told reporters after the meeting.
The United States, which has already issued sanctions against around 20 senior Ukrainian officials, said it was “actively considering” a range of further punitive measures.
“The options available to the president are being considered with some urgency,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the threat of sanctions against Ukraine is an attempt to blackmail Kiev by the West, accusing Ukrainian opposition hardliners of seeking a civil war.
Lavrov also accused the EU and the US of having double standards on Ukraine by laying the blame on the Ukrainian government and not criticizing the actions of “extremists”.
Meanwhile, deadly clashes between anti-government protesters and Ukrainian police continued on Thursday.
The clashes continued despite the announcement of a truce between President Viktor Yanukovych and the main opposition leaders a day earlier.
According to the country’s Health Ministry, at least 75 people, including police officers, have died since the beginning of the week when the violence broke out.
Ukraine has been rocked by anti-government protests since Yanukovych refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the EU on November 29 last year in favor of closer ties with Russia.