Ukraine as it happened: EU and US announce sanctions to Russia as talks linger on

Ukraine as it happened: EU and US announce sanctions to Russia as talks linger on
By Euronews
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The European leaders announced today that they will implement three step sanctions against Russia depending on its attitude on Ukraine. The President of the European Union Council, Herman Van Rompuy announced that the EU will suspend, in a first phase, the visa talks with Moscow, suspending also its attendance to the G8 Summit in Sochi. Rompuy also asked Russian forces to retreat immediately from Ukraine, calling scheduled Crimean referendum on autonomy as “illegal”.

EU’s next step sanctions could include travel bans and freeze of Russian assets, warned Rompuy that urged Moscow to sit at the negotiations table with Ukrainians.

The United States has said it is ready to impose sanctions such as visa bans, asset freezes on individual Russian officials and restrictions on business ties within days rather than weeks.

Crimea’s parliament voted to join Russia on Thursday and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum within 10 days on the decision in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov refused to meet his new Ukrainian counterpart or to launch a “contact group” to seek a solution to the crisis at talks in Paris on Wednesday despite arm-twisting by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and European colleagues. The two men met again in Rome on Thursday without an agreement on sight, according Lavrov.

[View the story "Ukraine live: Crimean Referendum "unconstitutional" for Kyiv" on Storify]

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