The EU is imposing further sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine after self-rule referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk regions say 89% and 96% respectively voted in favor of “self-rule”.
Earlier the head of the rebel Donetsk election commission, Roman Lyagin, said joining Russia “would probably be an appropriate step”.
Two Crimean companies and 13 individuals have been added to the sanctions list – the names are likely to be announced officially within the next 24 hours.
The sanctions impose travel bans and asset freezes. EU ministers are also discussing what might trigger a broader package of sanctions against the Russian economy.
In a brief statement, the Kremlin described the referendums as “the will of the people” and noted the “high turnout”.
The Kremlin denounced what it claimed had been “attempts to disrupt the votes, with the use of force, including the use of heavy weapons, against civilians”.
The Russian authorities said they expected the results of the vote to be implemented in a civilized manner, without any repetition of violence and called for dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk.
Later Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said there were no plans to hold fresh international talks on the crisis – he accused the West of an “information blockade” over events in Ukraine and of “shameless lies”.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is to travel to Kiev on Tuesday to promote “dialogue” between the different parties.
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