Sunday

12th Jul 2020

Crimea: EU poised to respond with 'limited’ Russia sanctions

  • Local officials said 96% of people voted to join Russia, but the EU and US say the vote has no credibility (Photo: osce.org)

EU ambassadors late on Sunday (16 March) agreed to impose a “limited” set of visa bans and asset freezes on Russia in reaction to the referendum in Crimea.

A diplomatic source said the late night meeting in Brussels “reached agreement on a list of names [of Russian officials] which is quite limited both in terms of their rank and the number of people.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The contact added that southern countries, including Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, and Spain, which did not want a more hard-hitting reaction, “had quiet support” from France and Germany, while the UK had called for a more robust response.

A second EU source said foreign ministers meeting also in Brussels on Monday “might reopen discussion” on the list. But the contact added: “At this late stage, I think they will focus instead on sending out a unified EU message.”

For their part, local officials in Crimea on Sunday said 96 percent of people voted for the territory to join Russia on a turnout of 83 percent.

Russian media cited “international observers” as saying the vote was free and fair.

RT said there were 30 observers from 10 European countries, while e-crimea.info said there were 135 from 23 states. Few were named or quoted, but those who were included: Mateusz Piskorski, a Polish former MP; Enrique Ravello, a Catalonian separatist MEP; and Bela Kovacs, a far-right Hungarian euro-deputy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said the vote let people “freely express their will and exercise their right to self-determination.”

He did not say if he plans to annex Crimea.

Instead, he hinted at making a concession to Western demands, by saying he would consider letting the Vienna-based multilateral body, the OSCE, send a “mission to monitor the situation in Ukraine” and that the mission should “cover all parts of Ukraine.”

Other members of the Russian establishment were more hawkish, however.

Sergei Neverov, the deputy speaker of the Russian parliament, told Interfax the assembly will "in the very near future" pass laws for Crimea to join Russia. Dmitry Kiselyov, the head of Russia Today, a state broadcaster, said in a news show that "Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash."

Meanwhile, EU and US leaders denounced the Crimea result as illegal.

European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in a joint communique: “The referendum is illegal and illegitimate and its outcome will not be recognised.”

“President Obama emphasised that the Crimean ‘referendum,’ which violates the Ukrainian constitution and occurred under duress of Russian military intervention, would never be recognised by the United States and the international community,” the White House noted.

British foreign minister William Hague added on Monday morning that the Crimea vote was “a mockery of proper democratic practice.”

Sweden’s Carl Bildt tweeted, in reference to Kiselyov’s nuclear threat, that “Russian TV propaganda [is] surpassing itself.”

The Ukrainian government also rejected the Crimea result.

But its defence ministry said it made a deal with Russia that there will be no military hostilities by either side in Crimea before 21 March.

Alongside Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Russian forces over the weekend made their first sortie into the Ukrainian mainland by attempting to occupy the village of Strilkove, in Crimea’s neighbouring Kherson region.

The Ukrainian authorities said they repelled the operation. But other reports indicate the Russian troops took control of a sanatorium nearby and remain in place.

News in Brief

  1. Citizens' perception of judicial independence drops
  2. Irish finance minister voted in as eurogroup president
  3. Italy's League party opens office near old communist HQ
  4. 'Significant divergences' remain in Brexit talks
  5. Germany identifies 32,000 right-wing extremists
  6. WHO to hold probe of global Covid-19 response
  7. China accuses Australia of 'gross interference' on Hong Kong
  8. EU to let Croatia, Bulgaria take first step to join euro

Opinion

Entering a new, more Putin-like, Russia

The so-called "all-Russia" vote finishing today, with more than 200 amendments to the Russian constitution, has been marked by systematic electoral fraud, mass mobilisation of the administrative resources, populistic promises or exploiting the historical memory.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  2. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  3. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds
  4. MEPs give green light to road transport sector reform
  5. If EU wants rule of law in China, it must help 'dissident' lawyers
  6. Five ideas to reshape 'Conference on Future of Europe'
  7. EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece
  8. Hydrogen strategy criticised for relying on fossil fuel gas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us