EU Slaps Initial Sanctions on Russia 03/06 12:42
The European Union suspended talks with Russia on a wide-ranging economic
pact and on a visa deal Thursday, punishing Moscow for its military incursion
into the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine.
BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union suspended talks with Russia on a
wide-ranging economic pact and on a visa deal Thursday, punishing Moscow for
its military incursion into the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine.
EU leaders made the announcement at an emergency summit and threatened
further sanctions if Russia does not quickly engage in talks to end the crisis.
The move in Brussels came on the heels of sanctions by the Obama
administration in Washington, D.C., which imposed visa restrictions on
pro-Russian opponents of the new Ukrainian government in Kiev, also clearing
the way for financial sanctions.
EU President Herman Van Rompuy said further measures could include travel
bans, asset freezes and the cancellation of an EU-Russia summit if Moscow does
not quickly end aggression and join talks to halt the crisis.
The sanctions on both side of the Atlantic aimed to rein in Europe's gravest
geopolitical crisis in a generation.
Van Rompuy called the Ukraine crisis the "most serious challenge to security
on our continent since the Balkan wars" of the 1990s.
The EU put on ice talks on a wide-ranging economic agreement and on granting
Russian citizens visa-free travel within the 28-nation bloc, a goal that Moscow
has been pursuing for years.
The decision followed tough negotiations between member states divided over
how to react to the Russian aggression.
"Not everyone will be satisfied with the decision but I should say that we
did much more together than one could have expected several hours ago," said
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
He stressed that further sanctions will kick in in the coming days unless
Russia stops its "aggressive steps" on the Crimean peninsula and engages in a
meaningful dialogue to defuse the crisis.
Tusk said there was "no enthusiasm" in Europe on sanctioning Russia, but he
called the moves inevitable given the country's blatant violation of
international rights by its actions in Crimea.