EU Sanctions Nine People Over 'illegal' Ukraine Polls
Faizan Hashmi 4 days ago Fri 07th December 2018 | 08:15 PM
EU states have agreed to sanction nine people over recent "illegal" elections in Russian-backed breakaway eastern Ukraine, officials told AFP Friday, as tensions between Moscow and Kiev run high over their recent sea clash.
Foreign ministers will use a meeting in Brussels on Monday to formally approve travel bans and asset freezes on nine Ukrainians involved in the polls in the Donetsk and Lugansk "People's Republics" last month, which the US blasted as a "sham" and the EU has called "illegal and illegitimate".
The move comes as Kiev steps up calls for international action against Russia after it seized three Ukrainian navy ships and 24 sailors in the Sea of Azov, but Monday's gathering of EU foreign ministers will not adopt sanctions over the incident, as countries are wary of escalating a complicated situation further.
An EU official said a meeting on Wednesday had agreed "the legal acts for new listings under the restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine".
The November polls returned pro-Moscow separatist leaders to power in the two breakaway Ukrainian regions, ballots that Kiev said were simply a way for the Kremlin to cement its grip on the disputed region.
The EU has a range of sanctions in place related to the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed more than 10,000 lives, but they are treading carefully over the Azov Sea clash.