Published On: Thu, Mar 20th, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: Russia Faces Fresh Sanctions Over Crimea

European Union leaders are due to meet in Brussels to discuss further targeted sanctions in response to Russian moves to annex Crimea.It comes as UN chief Ban Ki-moon visits Russian leaders in Moscow to urge a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Russia faces fresh sanctions over Crimea

Tensions are rising in Crimea after pro-Russia forces seized two naval bases including Ukraine’s navy HQ.

Russia has called on authorities there to release the detained commander of the Ukrainian navy.

Crimean leaders signed a treaty with Moscow on Tuesday to absorb the peninsula – an autonomous republic in southern Ukraine – into Russia.

The move followed a disputed referendum in Crimea on Sunday that approved its split from Ukraine.

The crisis comes nearly a month after Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was replaced by Western-leaning interim authorities.

Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and sailors remain trapped inside military bases on the peninsula, surrounded by heavily armed pro-Russia forces.

Western leaders have denounced Russia’s actions in Crimea as a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and a breach of international law.

European Union leaders are due to meet in Brussels to discuss further targeted sanctions in response to Russian moves to annex Crimea.

It comes as UN chief Ban Ki-moon visits Russian leaders in Moscow to urge a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Tensions are rising in Crimea after pro-Russia forces seized two naval bases including Ukraine’s navy HQ.

Russia has called on authorities there to release the detained commander of the Ukrainian navy.

Crimean leaders signed a treaty with Moscow on Tuesday to absorb the peninsula – an autonomous republic in southern Ukraine – into Russia.

The move followed a disputed referendum in Crimea on Sunday that approved its split from Ukraine.

The crisis comes nearly a month after Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was replaced by Western-leaning interim authorities.

Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and sailors remain trapped inside military bases on the peninsula, surrounded by heavily armed pro-Russia forces.

Western leaders have denounced Russia’s actions in Crimea as a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and a breach of international law.

UK-German call

The US and EU have already imposed sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian individuals.

Washington ordered the freezing of assets and travel bans on 11 individuals, while the EU imposed similar sanctions on 21 people.

EU leaders are expected to extend their sanctions on Thursday, possibly including political and military figures close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the EU’s response, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

“They reiterated that Sunday’s referendum in Crimea and Russia’s subsequent actions to annex Crimea are both illegal and agreed that the EU should impose further consequences on Russia, building on the travel bans and asset freezes agreed by European foreign ministers on Monday,” she said.

UN principles

The US has also said it is considering further sanctions.

President Barack Obama ruled out US military involvement in Ukraine on Wednesday, saying: “We do not need to trigger an actual war with Russia.”

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will meet President Putin in Moscow on Thursday and will travel to Kiev on Friday.

Mr Ban has called for a solution to the crisis guided by the principles of the UN Charter including sovereignty, territorial integrity and the unity of Ukraine.

In Crimea itself, a deadline set by Kiev for local authorities to release Ukrainian navy chief Serhiy Hayduk on Wednesday evening passed without incident.

His whereabouts are still unknown but local media reported that he had been summoned for questioning by prosecutors.

Ukraine’s navy headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, was one of two bases seized by pro-Russia forces on Wednesday.

Interim President Olexander Turchynov earlier said that unless Commander Hayduk and “all the other hostages – both military and civilian ones – were released, the authorities would carry out an adequate response… of a technical and technological nature”.

Ukraine said on Wednesday it was drawing up plans to withdraw its soldiers and their families from Crimea.

Security chief Andriy Parubiy said they wanted to move them “quickly and efficiently” to mainland Ukraine.