Ukraine as it happened: Moscow denies ultimatum, EU discusses "targeted sanctions"

Ukraine as it happened: Moscow denies ultimatum, EU discusses "targeted sanctions"
By Euronews
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The European Union leaders will meet next Thursday in Brussels to discuss the possibility of “targeted measures” against Russia. The decisions that could focus on the suspension of visa talks and a possible arms embargo, according several sources, are unlikely to match the United States in threatening sanctions against Russia, instead pushing for mediation between Moscow and Kiev, officials say.

The German Foreign Minister, Steinmeier told to reporters this morning in Brussels that “EU must not fall into abyss of military escalation” but, a leaked document with the draft conclusions of the meeting, reported by several sources, previews the possibility of “targeted measures” against Russia. The emergency talks, convened as Russian President Vladimir Putin seized the Crimean peninsula and said he had the right to invade his neighbor, are expected to result in a strongly worded statement of condemnation, but no immediate punitive measures.

The new Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk said today that he “will never give up Crimea” as the tension is rising on the pro-russian region. Moscow has put 150,000 troops on high alert near Ukraine’s border, it has shown no signs, yet, of sending them and denies Ukrainian allegations it sent the protesters who have hoisted Russian flags in some eastern towns.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Russia’s western partners on Monday to put aside geopolitical calculations and think about the Ukrainian people. “We call for a responsible approach, to put aside geopolitical calculations, and above all to put the interests of the Ukrainian people first,” he said in Geneva on a live feed broadcast to Moscow. He said all sides should stand by a Feb. 21 agreement, which agreed on undertaking constitutional reforms. Moscow has denied this afternoon previous information on an alleged Black Fleet ultimatum to ukrainian forces to “surrender or face military action” up to 4h00AM CET.

Switzerland, which chairs the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said on Monday it is trying to convene an international contact group on Ukraine and urged all players to help defuse the crisis. Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, who holds the rotating presidency of Europe’s main human rights and democracy watchdog, said the OSCE contact group would support Ukraine during its period of transition and coordinate international aid.

[View the story "Ukraine: Russian forces seize Crimea" on Storify]

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