The “illegitimate” and “illegal” nature of the referendum held in Crimea on Moscow’s impetus was voiced in the unified responses of Europe and the United States. The “message to Moscow is to avoid any further action needed to annex Crimea”, Minister for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini said. The response consists of several measures but also of an explicit recommendation not to close the door to dialogue, the only way that can lead to a political-diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine. The conclusions of the Council of EU Foreign Ministers read: “There is still time to reverse current developments. Opportunities exist to avoid a negative spiral”, reiterating the “objective of developing the EU-Russia relationship, based on mutual interest and respect for international law”, warning Russia that “any further steps by the Russian Federation to destabilise the situation in Ukraine would lead to additional and far-reaching consequences for relations…”.
“Our priority and our objective is to avoid Russia’s falling into international isolation”, said Minister Mogherini, commenting on the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council, which approved 6-month measures targeting 21 politicians and military personnel, “13 Russians and 8 Ukrainians” from Crimea, considered responsible for acts that undermined the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Of the 21 persons targeted by EU measures, such as travel bans and asset freezing, “none are members of the government, nor journalists or representatives of firms or agencies”, Mogherini reported, specifying that the list included the names of “three military personnel”.
Leaders to decide on EU-Russia Summit
Minister Mogherini also said that the decision on the possible cancellation of the 34th EU-Russia summit planned for Sochi “will be taken by the heads of government” at the summit on Thursday next. The announcement of the White House’s decision was almost contemporaneous with that of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.
Measures against those responsible
“We have established further sanctions against those responsible for the violations of Ukraine sovereignty”, said US President Barack Obama, referring to the freezing of the assets of several highly placed Russian officials, which include close collaborators of Vladimir Putin and the former Ukraine President himself Yanukovych. At the same time, the US president reiterated that he still considered diplomacy a valid route for resolving the crisis in Ukraine.
EU-Ukraine association agreement
On Friday, during the European Council leaders meeting, the “political chapter” of the EU-Ukraine association agreement will be signed. Minister Mogherini pointed out the emergence of “the need in the coming weeks to assist the Kiev government in its process of inclusiveness and democratisation”. This because “there is concern” about the ability “to maintain and further develop an inclusive approach to all minorities and regions in the country”. From this standpoint, the Minister added that it was “necessary” that “in the coming days” the Kiev government launch “a series of constitutional and economic reforms that will allow for the activation of a European aid package”.