Ukraine minister urges EU to send 'clear message' to Russia
The EU must speak with one voice to Russia over Ukraine and be ready to send a "clear message" it will impose more sanctions if necessary, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told AFP in an interview Monday.
"Now it is time to have a clear message to Moscow that further destabilisation in Ukraine will trigger further steps by the EU," Klimkin said as he visited Brussels for talks with new EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.
"We need a very clear message identifying the further steps the EU is ready and committed to take if the situation on the ground deteriorates," Klimkin said.
Any sanctions should "be a robust package," he added, building on the economic measures agreed in recent months to target Russia's defence, energy and finance sectors.
Shortly after he spoke EU foreign ministers agreed to add more Ukraine separatists to a blacklist of people facing travel bans and asset freezes, but avoided any Russian figures or further wider economic sanctions against Moscow.
The EU has been deeply divided on how far to go on sanctions, with more hawkish members such as Britain, Poland and the Baltic states balanced by Germany and some eastern nations which rely on Russia for trade and gas.
Mogherini said earlier that the sanctions in response to violations of a September peace deal signed between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels which Russia had backed, and an election held by the rebels, should be accompanied by talks with Russia and reforms in Ukraine.
Klimkin met Mogherini earlier Monday to sign an accord on promoting civil security sector reform in Ukraine, part of EU efforts to bolster civil society in the country.
Diplomatic sources said last week Mogherini -- accused by eastern European states before she took office of being too soft on Moscow -- had asked ministers whether they wanted her to pursue "outreach efforts," perhaps including going to see Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Seeking contact with Moscow -Asked about such a role for Mogherini, Klimkin said "we like (her)" and backed the idea of contacting Moscow -- just as Kiev was also trying to do to revive the September peace deal.
"It is about ensuring the EU speaks with the same voice on Russia," he said, calling for a clear commitment that further steps will follow if Moscow does not fully back the September peace deal reached in the Belarus capital Minsk.
After initial success, the ceasefire now lies in tatters and the West has accused Moscow of providing even more support for the rebels who defiantly held elections in the areas they control earlier this month.
Klimkin said that the Ukraine crisis was a "threat to the security of the whole continent" and Brussels had to make up its mind where it stood.
Asked about a possible "red line" in the crisis, Klimkin said that would be when "it became absolutely clear (that Russia) is not coming back to (the) Minsk" accord.
"We could be there quite quickly if we do not take quick, decisive steps," he said.
Kiev was trying to arrange discussions under the Minsk arrangements this week and was even willing to consider returning to the Geneva format -- talks between the EU, Russia and the United States on the crisis which failed in April this year, Klimkin said.
But there had been no contacts with Moscow in recent weeks, he added, with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko last meeting Putin in mid-October.
© 2014 AFP