UK Politics

Ukraine: Hague says EU to expand Russian sanctions

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Media captionMr Hague accused Russia of seeking to "foment instability and disorder" in eastern Ukraine

The EU is to expand sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

Mr Hague said the list of Russian officials subject to travel bans and asset freezes would be increased, with those targeted to be announced shortly.

Talks on economic and trade sanctions were also "well advanced", he added.

Earlier on Monday, the US imposed sanctions on seven Russian individuals and 17 companies linked to President Vladimir Putin's "inner circle".

In a statement to Parliament, Mr Hague accused Russia of seeking to "foment instability and disorder" in eastern Ukraine and said its claims that recent incidents were the work of local militia was not credible.

The UK was "very confident" that pro-Russian separatists and armed gangs were operating "at the direction" of the Russian authorities, he told MPs.

'Deplorable'

Mr Hague condemned the shooting of the mayor of Kharkiv, a city in eastern Ukraine, as "deplorable".

He said Russia had failed to implement the terms of the Geneva accord, agreed earlier this month, obliging it and Ukraine to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions.

In contrast, he said, the Ukrainian government was fulfilling the agreement in "good faith".

At the moment, 33 Russian and Ukrainian officials are subject to targeted sanctions by the EU following Russia's annexation of Crimea in February, a move regarded as illegal by the US and the UK.

Mr Hague said the names of those to be added to the EU sanctions list would be announced on Tuesday.

He defended the EU's "calibrated" approach to the situation in Ukraine from criticism it was being too soft on Russia, saying "far-reaching" economic sanctions would result in the event of a substantial further escalation.

Moscow said the annexation, which followed a referendum, would protect the interests of the Russian-speaking majority in the region following the ousting of the government of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych.

It has since repeatedly insisted it has no further territorial ambitions in Ukraine.