EU sanctions two Crimean firms, 13 people over Ukraine crisis
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, right, talks with EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele, left, and Romania's Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean, during an EU foreign ministers meeting, at the European Council building in Brussels, Monday, May 12, 2014. AP PhotoThe European Union ramped up sanctions over the Ukraine crisis on Monday, adding two Crimean firms and 13 people to an existing blacklist, EU diplomats said.
No details were immediately available, but sources said the targets agreed by EU foreign ministers included two Crimean firms expropriated following the much-condemned annexation of the peninsula by Russia in March.
"It is not really enough," Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linkus Linkevicius told AFP. "I believe further sanctions will be needed (including) the inner circle of advisers" to President Vladimir Putin.
"What we are facing is a Russia-sponsored insurgency," he added.
The EU so far has targeted Russians and Ukrainians blamed for undermining the country's integrity, stopping short of agreeing wider economic sanctions on banks or the energy sector that would also hurt many in Europe itself.
Diplomats say there are "very big differences" over the issue.
The decision to expand the EU assets freeze and travel bans comes as the bloc appears set to boost its role in the East-West tussle taking place in its backyard with a fresh show of public support for the Kiev government.
One of its top officials, EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy who represents the bloc's 28 leaders, flies to Ukraine on Monday to meet the interim government.
The next day, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk comes to Brussels with members of his government for high-profile talks likely to focus on an EU pledge of 11 billion euros ($15 billion) of aid.
May 25 election
The foreign ministers roundly condemned Sunday's votes by separatists in east Ukraine but the talks focused largely on Ukraine's May 25 presidential election and a peace plan outlined by OSCE chief, Swiss President Didier Burkhalter.
"I hope we will strongly support those elections," said British Foreign Secretary William Hague. "In the vast majority of Ukraine there is no difficulty with the elections going ahead." Burkhalter said the OSCE was planning to send 1,000 monitors to Ukraine for the vote, "one of the biggest missions" in the organisation's history.
"It is very important that we believe that the election can take place and that we act in that direction," he said.
In the runup, the OSCE is attempting to launch a national dialogue moderated by the OSCE and an independent Ukrainian figure to help bring all players around the table.
Repeatedly stressing that "we can't lose time", Burkhalter said he hoped for wide Ukrainian support as well as backing from the EU, Russia and the US to enable roundtable talks to launch in the next few days.
"If we want to succeed in the end it is about the integration of all actors. The integration of the Russian Federation above all is very important.
"We have seen in Moscow that there is an openness for a dialogue," said Burkhalter who met with Putin last week.
The head of the influential East-West OSCE stressed that Russia had expressed "respect but not recognition" of the separatist vote in eastern Ukraine this weekend.
"Russia sees a need to take into account the different voices in eastern Ukraine," he added. "There is no recognition of these results."
But Linkevicius, whose country is deeply suspicious of Russia, said "this position is not clear" and noted that Moscow had failed to condemn the referendum.
A first step in the OSCE roadmap has been to name respected veteran German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger as a moderator for the roundtable talks involving the Ukraine government, parliament and the regions.
Ischinger, who would work alongside a Ukrainian bipartisan figure, was a longtime ambassador in Britain and the US and took part in the Dayton negotiations on Bosnia as well as NATO's eastwards enlargement. He heads the Munich security conference