A first, limited round of European Union sanctions on Russia will take effect on Wednesday, an EU diplomat said, blacklisting more politicians and banning trade between the EU and two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday recognized the separatist enclaves in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine that adjoin Russia, deepening Western fears of a major war in Europe.
The EU chose not to sanction Putin himself but instead blacklist all members of the lower house of the Russian parliament who voted in favor of the recognition of the breakaway regions, freezing any assets they have in the EU and banning them from travelling to the bloc.
Banks involved in financing separatist activities in eastern Ukraine will also be targeted and the two enclaves will be removed from a free-trade deal between the EU and Ukraine.
The impact of the new sanctions on banks and of limits on the Russian government’s ability to raise capital on the EU’s financial markets is likely to be limited.
Western governments for now are preferring to keep the much larger sanctions packages that they have planned in reserve should the crisis escalate.
The sanctions, already approved in principle by foreign ministers on Tuesday and confirmed by ambassadors on Wednesday morning, still need formal approval by the foreign ministers.
That is normally a formality, and the sanctions will enter into force once they are published in the EU’s official journal, a step expected later on Wednesday.