EU to extend visa ban, asset freeze list over Ukraine: Merkel
BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
Merkel reiterated that Russia faced the threat of EU economic sanctions if the crisis over Ukraine's Crimea region further escalated ahead of an EU summit. AFP PhotoGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that the EU would target more figures with travel bans and assets freezes over the Ukraine crisis, and also warned of economic sanctions.
Merkel told parliament that Russia's absorption of Ukraine's Crimea region, which has been condemned as a violation of international law, demanded a "resolute and united" response by Europe and its partners.
"At the European Council beginning today, the heads of state and government of the European Union will decide further phase-two sanctions that we agreed two weeks ago," Merkel said ahead of the two-day summit in Brussels.
Among them would be "an extension of the list of responsible people against whom travel restrictions and account freezes are in effect," she said.
At a crisis summit on March 6, EU leaders agreed a three-step scenario against President Vladimir Putin that began with the suspension of talks on easing visas into Europe for Russian travellers.
This week, the EU ratcheted up its response by slapping an asset freeze and travel ban on 21 Russians and Ukrainians deemed to be behind the annexation of Crimea, including three top military brass.
Merkel also warned Moscow of possible economic sanctions if the crisis escalates.
"Furthermore the EU Council today and tomorrow will make clear that we are ready at any time to apply third-phase measures in the event of a further worsening of the situation.
"And it will, without doubt, be a question of economic sanctions," she said.
Turning to Russia's position in the G8, Merkel said "as long as there aren't the political conditions for such an important format as the G8 at the moment, there can no longer be a G8, neither a summit nor the format as such".
Preparatory meetings for a scheduled June G8 summit in the Russian Olympic resort of Sochi have already been suspended by the other members.