Home Breaking News EU adopts new sanctions against Russia over Ukraine crisis

EU adopts new sanctions against Russia over Ukraine crisis


The European Union has formally adopted new sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

The new measures include restrictions on large Russian state-owned oil companies raising money on European financial markets.

However, the new measures will come into effect “in the next few days”, not on September 9 as some had expected.

Russia denies accusations by Ukraine and the West that it has been sending troops to help pro-Russian rebels.

EU Council President Herman van Rompuy said the measures were aimed at “promoting a change of course in Russia’s actions destabilizing eastern Ukraine”.

The EU is being deliberately vague about when they will come into force, to allow time to assess the implementation of a cease-fire agreed on September 5.

“Depending on the situation on the ground, the EU stands ready to review the agreed sanctions in whole or in part,” Herman van Rompuy said.

The new EU measures include restrictions on large Russian state-owned oil companies raising money on European financial markets

The new EU measures include restrictions on large Russian state-owned oil companies raising money on European financial markets

The cease-fire appears to be holding, although the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which brokered the deal, described it on September 8 as “shaky”.

Before the truce came into place, pro-Russian separatists made big gains in eastern Ukraine and seized territory a few miles outside the strategic south-eastern port city of Mariupol.

The gas sector is not affected by the latest sanctions. However, major state-owned oil firms are included, such as Rosneft, which is already targeted by US measures.

Russia has warned that it could block international flights through its airspace if the EU goes ahead with new measures.

Diplomats say the new package will target Russian oil companies Rosneft and Transneft and the petroleum unit of state gas monopoly Gazprom.

Their access to financial markets will be restricted – a serious matter for Rosneft, which last month asked the Russian government for a $42 billion loan.

Also on September 8, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine have released 1,200 prisoners.

The releases followed the cease-fire deal, he said, which included an exchange of prisoners.

He was speaking during a visit to Mariupol, which has come under shelling from pro-Russian rebels in recent days.

Petro Poroshenko said during his visit on Monday that the city’s defenses would be reinforced and that rebels would suffer a “crushing defeat” if they advanced on the city.

Mariupol is the last city in Donetsk region still held by the Ukrainian government and is a strategic port on the route to Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia in March.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has left some 2,600 people dead since April.

The sanctions would also expand the visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials and entities, including separatist leaders in Ukraine.

Earlier Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev warned that Moscow would respond “asymmetrically” to further sanctions.

A Russian airspace ban “could drive many struggling airlines into bankruptcy”, Dmitry Medvedev told a Russian daily.

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