: :inin Kyiv (EET)

EU extends sanctions against Russia

The EU extends the targeted sanctions for the violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine until September and will start preparing the next steps that will be used against Russia, if the Minsk agreements are not performed.

This is referred to in the conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, an extraordinary meeting of which was held in Brussels on Thursday, an Ukrinform correspondent reported.

“In view of the worsening situation the Council agrees to extend, in full compliance with the requirements of the EU law, the restrictive measures targeting persons and entities for threatening or undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, adopted in March 2014 and subsequently updated, until September 2015. Moreover, it calls on the High Representative and the Commission to present within a week a proposal on additional listings for decision at the FAC on February 9, 2015. The Council will continue to closely follow the situation on the ground and the current diplomatic efforts, and asks that further preparatory work by the Commission Services and the EEAS be undertaken on any appropriate action, aiming at ensuring a swift and comprehensive implementation of the Minsk agreements,” the statement of the foreign ministers of the EU member-countries says.

The Council strongly condemns the indiscriminate shelling of the residential areas, especially in Mariupol and the recent escalation of fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

“The Council is shocked by the high number of casualties. It notes evidence of continued and growing support given to the separatists by Russia, which underlines Russia’s responsibility. The Council expects Russia to exert its influence and to induce the separatists, without delay to stop their hostile actions and live up fully to their commitments under the Minsk agreements, including notably the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the security zone along the line of contact foreseen in the Minsk Memorandum, as urgent first steps. The Council calls on Russia to fully assume its responsibility, to implement its commitments under the Minsk agreements and to condemn the separatists’ actions,” reads the document.

The ministers assured that the European Union will actively support all diplomatic efforts conducive to creating a new political impetus and will engage further as necessary.

The Minsk agreements should be the basis for the mentioned negotiation process aimed at a sustainable political solution to the conflict, respecting Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

According to the statement, progress must be made on the withdrawal of illegal and foreign armed groups, military equipment, fighters and mercenaries, freeing of all hostages, securing the Ukrainian-Russian border with permanent monitoring by the OSCE, as well as early local elections in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Ukrainian law on interim self-governance and an inclusive national dialogue, notably on issues such as constitutional reform and decentralisation.

The Council also said about the importance of moving forward with the ratification of the Rome Statute by Ukraine, as it has committed to in the Association Agreement.

The foreign ministers of the European Union once again condemned the violation of the Crimean Tatars’ rights in Crimea.

The Council also tasks the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to step up efforts on further improvement of strategic communication in response to Russia’s misinformation activity and to establish a dedicated communication team.

The EU Council has also included to its conclusions a point on concern with Russia’s position that expresses denial of results of international investigation into the downing of flight MH 17 in Donetsk region.

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