UK & World News

  • 17 March 2014, 14:19

Ukraine: EU Sanctions Target List Agreed

Britain's relationship with Russia could return to Cold War levels, William Hague has warned, as EU foreign ministers agreed a list of Russians to target with sanctions.

The 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials on the list will be subjected to travel bans and asset freezes in response to the on-going Ukraine crisis.

At the same time, the White House disclosed Barack Obama had imposed a travel ban on 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials, including ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and two of Vladimir Putin's aides.

Mr Hague cautioned drawing up the list would not be the end of measures taken by Europe and said there would be further sanctions on the table if Russia did not back down.

The names will be released on Monday afternoon.

The Foreign Secretary said that the EU would not accept the outcome of the Crimea referendum, in which 97% had voted to secede from Ukraine. The regional assembly has already formally applied to become part of Russia.

Arriving in Brussels for the meeting, Mr Hague said: "The important thing is that we are also prepared to move to further measures and there will be long-term costs and consequences for Russia if they continue to approach things in this way."

He added: "What we look to Russia to do is to enter into a diplomatic process and framework that brings the Russian leaders into direct contact and negotiation with Ukrainian leaders.

"That is what we have been pressing for over the last two weeks. It can be provided through an international contact or co-ordination group, supported by many other countries. We are all ready to do that."

It came as Ukraine's parliament has approved a partial mobilisation of troops following Crimea's referendum supporting a union with Russia.

It said 20,000 troops reserve troops were being called up, plus 20,000 more from the newly-formed National Guard.

There had been reservations about what action the UK might take given the impact on its economy.

A document photographed as it was carried in to Downing Street earlier this month stated the "UK should not support, for now, trade sanctions ?  or close London's financial centre to Russians".

When asked about the risk to the UK economy of sanctions on Russia on Monday morning, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "In terms of preparing the measures that we are confident will be agreed later today, a lot of detailed work has gone into that.

"The focus must be on sending a clear message to the Russian authorities.

"The reason we are going ahead is because we think it is absolutely right for there to be consequences, given the actions of the Russian authorities."

Mr Hague suggested on Monday morning relations with Russia could return to Cold War levels if Mr Putin refuses to back down.

He told the Radio 4 Today programme: "I wouldn't describe it as a new Cold War, but of course this will depend on the course of events over the coming days.

"We continue to talk to Russia, every diplomatic channel is open, the opportunity is still there to de-escalate this crisis."

EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton said: "I call upon Russia, yet again, to meet with Ukrainian leaders and start dialogue with them and to try and move to de-escalation as quickly as possible. We have seen no evidence of that.

"You can't simply sit back and say this situation can be allowed to happen. So, first of all we have to think very carefully about what the response ought to be, and there should be a response ... But we are also trying to send the strongest possible signals in our work today, and later this week with heads of state and government, to Russia."