EU draft would extend Russia sanctions over Ukraine escalation


The EU has prepared a draft statement for the foreign ministers of its 28 members to agree to extend sanctions against Russia by six months, add new people to the sanctions list and prepare new measures.

Foreign ministers have called an extraordinary meeting for Thursday after a new advance by pro-Russian rebels. Kiev says 30 civilians were killed in shelling of the Ukrainian government-held port of Mariupol by pro-Russian rebels on Saturday, shattering a five-month ceasefire.

“In view of the worsening situation, the Council (of foreign ministers) agrees to extend the restrictive measures targeting persons and entities for threatening or undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity … until September 2015,” draft conclusions for the meeting, seen by Reuters, said.

The statement was referring to asset freezes and travel bans put on dozens of Ukrainians and Russians since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula last March.

The ministers will also ask the EU’s executive Commission and its diplomatic service to draw up a list of further names that could be put under sanctions, for a decision within a week, the draft statement said.

Ministers will pledge to closely follow the situation on the ground and to “act accordingly”. They will ask officials to carry out more work “on any appropriate action, in particular on further restrictive measures, aiming at ensuring a swift and comprehensive implementation” of a truce deal signed last September in Minsk, which Western countries accuse Moscow of violating.

A decision on further economic sanctions on Russia is likely to be left to EU leaders who next meet on Feb. 12.