EU Expands Sanctions Against Russia Over Ukraine Crisis
EU Foreign Minister have agreed to expand sanctions imposed on Russia over its stance on the Ukrainian crisis.
The list has been expanded with two Crimean companies and 13 individuals, according to reports by the Moscow Times.
Monday's decision means a total of 48 Russians and Ukrainians have seen their EU assets frozen and have been imposed travel bans as a result of Crimea's absorption by Russia after a local referendum held on the peninsula on March 16.
New names are to be announced in the next 24 hours, the BBC has revealed.
Companies targeted by the EU's latest decision were nationalized by Russia following the incorporation of Crimea.
Officials have repeatedly stated a "third" round of sanctions is being prepared and will comprise economic restrictions if the crisis in eastern Ukraine deepens. A clear division in the positions of EU member states on that matter could however block such action.
The measures come short after referendums for "self-government" were held in Donetsk and Luhansk regions and an overwhelming majority was reported to have supported the move.
Ukraine, as well as Europe and the EU, have refused to recognize the vote, with Kiev describing it as a "farce" with no legal basis.
Russia, on the other hands, has vowed to respect the act of free will made by Donetsk and Luhansk's population.
Pro-Russian separatists have announced another referendum is to be held on which the people will decide whether to join Russia.
The country's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has also urged a national dialogue between Kiev's leadership and the rebels brokered by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Lavrov has ruled out that another international initiative might take place to seek easing of tensions in Ukraine.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has meanwhile announced that he will visit Kiev on Tuesday to promote the dialogue with the east.
Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his government are meanwhile heading to Brussels to take part in a join session with the European Commission on the same day. Interim authorities are to discuss the implementation of the EU's plan to assist Ukraine with EUR 11 B, which was adopted alongside the signing of the EU Association Agreement's political part in March.
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