BRUSSELS, February 23. /TASS/. The European Union has introduced sanctions against 351 MPs of Russia’s State Duma (lower house) and 27 legal entities and individuals, who voted in favor of Moscow’s decision to recognize the independence of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, the Council of the EU said in a statement published on Wednesday.
"The Council today adopted on a package of measures to respond to the decision by the Russian Federation to proceed with the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts [regions] of Ukraine as independent entities, and the subsequent decision to send Russian troops into these areas. Such decisions are illegal and unacceptable. They violate international law, Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Russia’s own international commitments and further escalate the crisis," the Council said in a statement.
351 MPs, 27 individuals and entities
"Within the existing framework for sanctions, the EU will extend restrictive measures to cover all the 351 members of the Russian State Duma, who voted on 15 February in favor of the appeal to President [Vladimir] Putin to recognize the independence of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk "republics," the statement says.
"Moreover targeted restrictive measures will be imposed on additional 27 high profile individuals and entities, who have played a role in undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. These include decision makers such as members of the government, who were involved in the illegal decisions; banks and businesspersons/oligarchs supporting financially or materially Russian operations in the Donetsk and Lugansk's territories, or benefitting from them; senior military officers, who played a role in the invasion and destabilization actions; and individuals responsible for leading a disinformation war against Ukraine," the Council explained.
So, the EU’s Russia blacklist will apply to a total of 555 individuals and 52 entities. "Restrictive measures include an asset freeze and a prohibition from making funds available to the listed individuals and entities. In addition, a travel ban applicable to the listed persons prevents these from entering or transiting through EU territory," the statement said.
The Council’s statement doesn’t list the names of MPs, legal entities and individuals, who were put on the blacklist. The names of the persons concerned will be published later in the EU Official Journal.
Sanctions against Russian government debt
The EU has imposed sanctions against Russia’s government debt by restricting access to its capital and financial markets, the Council of the EU said. "The Council decided to introduce a sectoral prohibition to finance the Russian Federation, its government and Central Bank. By restraining the ability of the Russian state and government to access the EU’s capital and financial markets and services, the EU aims to limit the financing of escalatory and aggressive policies," the statement said.
Economic sanctions against DPR and LPR
The new round of sanctions bans any economic ties between the EU countries with the DPR and LPR. "Today's decision will introduce in particular an import ban on goods from the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts [regions], restrictions on trade and investments related to certain economic sectors, a prohibition to supply tourism services, and an export ban for certain goods and technologies," the document says.
Threat of new sanctions
According to the statement, "the EU urges Russia to reverse the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, uphold its commitments, abide by international law and return to the discussions within the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group. The EU also calls on other states not to follow Russia’s illegal decision to recognize this proclaimed independence."
"The EU stands ready to swiftly adopt more wide-ranging political and economic sanctions in case of need, and reiterates its unwavering support and commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders," the Council stressed.
Recognition of DPR and LPR
The situation on the Donbass contact line took a turn for the worse early on February 17. The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) reported the most massive bombardments by the Ukrainian armed forces over the past months. This caused damage to a number of civil infrastructure facilities and deaths among the civilian population.
On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a decision to recognize the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. The treaties on friendship, cooperation and mutual aid were signed with their leaders. Putin ordered the Foreign Ministry to establish diplomatic relations with the DPR and LPR, and instructed the Defense Ministry to ensure peace on their territory.