EU set to widen sanctions on Russia over Ukraine


LIVE: US-Ukraine news conference

The European Union is set to agree new sanctions against Russia, targeting its finance, energy and defence sectors over the conflict in Ukraine.

Top Russian individuals and entities are already subject to EU sanctions for their alleged role in Ukraine's crisis.

Calls for the EU to act have been fuelled by the downing of flight MH17.

An international team has again failed to access the crash site in eastern Ukraine, amid heavy fighting between government forces and rebels there.

This is the third time in as many days that the team, which includes Dutch and Australian police officers, has had to abandon attempts to reach the site. Many of the 298 people travelling aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 were Dutch or Australian.

Earlier on Tuesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte asked Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to "halt hostilities" around the crash site, according to a spokesman for Mr Rutte, quoted by AFP news agency.

Civilians fleeing in Donetsk Civilians flee the fighting in Donetsk region, with a sign on their car warning of children aboard
Damaged railway bridge in Ukraine Ukraine's infrastructure, including this railway bridge, has also been damaged in the fighting

Ukraine's military has been on the offensive, seeking to encircle the pro-Russian separatist rebels in Donetsk region. In the latest developments:

  • Several shells are said to have struck buildings in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk city
  • Ukraine says its troops have entered the towns of Shakhtarsk and Torez in Donetsk region, and Lutuhyne in Luhansk region
  • Ten Ukrainian soldiers and at least 22 civilians have reportedly been killed in the last 24 hours
  • The dead civilians are said to include three children and five people at a home for the elderly
  • A group of hackers sympathetic to the rebels says it has disabled the website of the Ukrainian president.

Families of MH17 victims are waiting to hear which bodies have been identified, as Anna Holligan reports


Analysis by the BBC's Gavin Hewitt

Europe's leaders did not want to move to economic sanctions but they were moved by two considerations: the outrage at the way investigators have been blocked from access to the crash site of the downed plane and, secondly, the fact that Russia, since the incident, has been allowing heavy weapons across the border into Ukraine.

The calculation in Europe is that it had to act for its own credibility and that it may have to go further to ensure that President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle understand that their actions carry consequences.

How will Russia respond? Hard to say, although Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would not retaliate or "fall into hysterics".

But - if all goes as expected - the EU will today take a significant step; that it has to risk some damage to its own economic interests in order to put pressure on President Putin and Russia.

Ukraine conflict: EU squeezes Russia

'Further costs'

EU ambassadors in Brussels are taking part in a meeting that is expected to lead to fresh sanctions. The meeting ends on Tuesday afternoon.

The fresh measures under discussion include restrictions on Russian banks accessing European markets, an arms embargo and curbs on dealings with the energy sector.

The leaders of France, Germany, Britain and the US already discussed possible sanctions in a conference call on Monday.

Rebel gunmen in Donetsk region Rebel gunmen stand watch as the international convoy waits to access the crash site
A serviceman of volunteer battalions of territorial defence Lugansk-1 in Ukraine, 28 July Pro-Russians rebels are trying to fend off an advance by Ukrainian forces in the east

A spokeswoman for UK Prime Minister David Cameron later said that he and fellow European leaders had agreed to "impose further costs on Russia" for supporting the rebels in Ukraine.

Western nations have accused Russia of equipping the uprising in Ukraine with heavy weapons - including the missile that brought down flight MH17.

Russia has denied the charge. Russia and the rebels blame Ukrainian government forces for the attack on the airliner.

Any new EU sanctions could come into force within 24 hours of a deal being reached between the bloc's 28 member states.

Sanctions warning

Last weekend, the EU subjected a further 15 Russian individuals and 18 entities to asset freezes and visa bans for their alleged involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

The list of 87 targets of EU sanctions now includes the heads of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and foreign intelligence, the president of Chechnya, as well as two Crimean energy firms.

However, UK company BP, which owns nearly 20% of Russian state oil giant Rosneft, has warned that further sanctions against Russia could "adversely impact" its performance.

Meanwhile, Russia's foreign ministry has dismissed the latest UN human rights report on the Ukraine conflict as "unobjective and even hypocritical".

The UN's human rights chief warned on Monday that the downing of MH17 may be a "war crime".

According to the UN, at least 1,129 people have been killed and 3,442 wounded in the fighting in Ukraine since mid-April. The violence has displaced more than 200,000 people, many of them fleeing to neighbouring Russia.


More on This Story

MH17 crash


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  • rate this

    Comment number 845.

    If you want to know why so many posts are pro Russian , just google "Russian Troll" and you will see many articles about the Kremlin operation to pay people to post pro Russian propaganda on western media websites.
    Amazing but true. Putin's Russia likes to control and manipulate everything.
    Google " the guardian, Russian Troll " great Guardian article on it.
    Get informed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 844.

    and other similar posters.

    Yes, there are other important issues in the world.
    Go find an appropriate channel to vent your spleen
    if the topic of HYS is not your liking - not accuse BBC of propaganda
    or manipulation.

    Actually, I think is because such a topic would just end up a mindless slanging match without any sensible debate or moderation that it is not taken up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 843.

    It is almost impossible to know who to believe about what is going on in eastern Ukraine when each government puts a different spin on it and reporters and inspectors have difficulty in reaching the crash site of the plane. It takes both sides to stop fighting, not just one. False flag stories circulate on the internet about the plane crash. Very disappointing if true.

  • rate this

    Comment number 842.

    Looks like the Global Bankers are pushing for WW3 so as they can eventually bring peace with their world government in waiting the United Nations

  • rate this

    Comment number 841.

    These wolves baying for war must realize:
    When you do war against countries in the Middle East - the war stays there.
    When you do war against countries like Russia - the war IMMEDIATELY comes to your own door.
    It does not take years to escalate - once it starts -
    WW3 would be over - THE SAME DAY! Any adults in the room should consider this!


Comments 5 of 845


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