| 12 April 2024, Friday |

EU warns of sanctions if Russia recognises Ukraine breakaway regions

On Monday, the European Union joined demands for Russia not to acquire or recognize separatist Ukrainian territories, warning punishment if Moscow did.

Ignoring the warnings, the Kremlin claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin told the leaders of France and Germany during phone talks on Monday that he planned to issue a decree soon recognizing Ukraine’s two separatist regions as separate nations.

“If there is annexation, there will be penalties; if there is recognition, I will put the measures on the table, and the ministers will decide,” said EU foreign policy leader Josep Borrell during a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Borrell was speaking before the Kremlin gave a readout of Putin’s calls and confirmed he told France’s president and Germany’s chancellor that he planned to recognize the breakaway regions’ independence.

Borrell’s wording signaled it may be more difficult for the EU, whose members have different interests and views on how to deal with Moscow, to agree on a joint position, and sanctions, in case of recognition than it would have been for a full-fledged annexation.

“We call on President Putin to respect international law,” Borrell said. “We are ready to react with a strong united front in case he should decide” to ignore these calls, he said.

Western countries fear a build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine in recent weeks is a prelude to an invasion, which Moscow denies.

The United States and European allies have said any attack would trigger severe sanctions against Moscow, but Kyiv wants these to be imposed now, its Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in Brussels earlier on Monday.

“We believe that there are good and legitimate reasons to impose at least some of the sanctions now to demonstrate that the European Union is not only talking the talk about sanctions, but is also walking the walk,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the EU ministers backed plans announced last month for a 1.2 billion euro financial aid loan package for Ukraine, and also agreed in principle to a long-standing Ukrainian request for a small-scale mission of military instructors to help train officers.

  • Reuters