Russia must be in 'no doubt' about Ukraine sanctions: Britain

23rd June 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russia must be in "no doubt" it faces tougher sanctions unless it backs the Ukraine government's peace plan and halts interference in the east of the country, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday.

Hague said preparatory work on so-called "Phase 3" sanctions, which target specific economic sectors, had been done and European Union leaders meeting on Thursday and Friday would take up the issue.

In the meantime, EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg wanted to see Russia respond positively and unambiguously to Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko's "very good" peace plan.

"By Friday, we will be able to see how Russia is responding," Hague said, describing Moscow's stance as "fundamental" to what happens next.

"We are ready to take those wider sanctions and no one in Moscow should be in any doubt about that," he said.

"It is without doubt a decisive week for Ukraine," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was due to travel to Kiev later on Monday.

"The peace plan (and ceasefire) ... are not only a courageous but a decisive step too," Steinmeier said.

"We now hope and expect that Russia is ready to cooperate," he added.

So far the European Union has imposed asset freezes and travel bans on some 60 people, including some close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but many member states are reluctant to go further, given their close economic ties with Russia.

Washington however has pressed for more action and on Friday slapped sanctions on another seven people.

The 28 foreign ministers will be briefed by Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, invited to the meeting as Brussels prepares to sign an EU association accord with Poroshenko on Friday that lies at the heart of the crisis.

"The main message -- support the presidential peace plan," Klimkin said as he arrived.

Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin both called on Sunday for dialogue to solve the crisis but their words reflected deep mutual suspicion.

Russia bitterly opposes the signing of the EU association accord, alongside similar pacts with Georgia and Moldova, seeing it as an intrusion into its ex-Soviet sphere of influence.

© 2014 AFP

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