Ukraine crisis: EU adopts new sanctions on Russia

The logo of Russia's top crude producer Rosneft is seen at the company's headquarters in Moscow (photo from 27 May 2013) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Rosneft is one of the companies targeted by the new sanctions

European Union member states have formally adopted new sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

The new measures include restrictions on large Russian state-owned oil companies raising money on European financial markets.

However, the new measures will come into effect "in the next few days", not on Tuesday as some had expected.

Russia denies accusations by Ukraine and the West that it has been sending troops to help pro-Russian rebels.

EU Council President Herman van Rompuy said the measures were aimed at "promoting a change of course in Russia's actions destabilising eastern Ukraine".

But the 28-member bloc is being deliberately vague about when they will come into force, to allow time to assess the implementation of a ceasefire agreed on Friday, BBC Europe correspondent Chris Morris reports.

"Depending on the situation on the ground, the EU stands ready to review the agreed sanctions in whole or in part," Mr van Rompuy said.

The ceasefire appears to be holding, although the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which brokered the deal, described it on Monday as "shaky".

Before the truce came into place, pro-Russian separatists made big gains in eastern Ukraine and seized territory a few miles outside the strategic south-eastern port city of Mariupol.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Poroshenko delivered military awards as part of his visit to Mariupol
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Ukrainian troops could be seen near the town of Kramatorsk on Monday
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Meanwhile in Donetsk, rebels held a ceremony to commemorate the struggle against the Nazis in World War Two

The gas sector is not affected by the latest sanctions. However, major state-owned oil firms are included, such as Rosneft, which is already targeted by US measures.

Russia has warned that it could block international flights through its airspace if the EU goes ahead with new measures.

Diplomats say the new package will target Russian oil companies Rosneft and Transneft and the petroleum unit of state gas monopoly Gazprom.

Their access to financial markets will be restricted - a serious matter for Rosneft, which last month asked the Russian government for a $42bn (£25.2bn) loan.

'Crushing defeat'

Also on Monday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine have released 1,200 prisoners.

The releases followed Friday's ceasefire deal, he said, which included an exchange of prisoners.

He was speaking during a visit to Mariupol, which has come under shelling from pro-Russian rebels in recent days.

Mr Poroshenko said during his visit on Monday that the city's defences would be reinforced and that rebels would suffer a "crushing defeat" if they advanced on the city.

Mariupol is the last city in Donetsk region still held by the Ukrainian government and is a strategic port on the route to Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia in March.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has left some 2,600 people dead since April.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPetro Poroshenko: "We should have the representatives of the OSCE - just for the quick reaction if anything goes wrong"

Analysis: Andrew Walker, BBC economics correspondent

Rosneft calls itself the leader of the Russian petroleum industry. That makes it a very important player in the European Union's energy market. About 90% of the crude oil used in the EU is imported and Russia is, by a large margin, the biggest supplier.

The sanctions don't appear to directly affect that relationship. They would prevent Rosneft raising money in European financial markets.

But as crude oil is mainly transported by sea, if the trade were disrupted any losses from Russian suppliers could potentially be replaced. It would almost certainly be more expensive, but it could be done, up to a point.

Gas is another story, which may explain why Gazprom's main business is reported not to be on the new sanctions list. Russian gas is delivered to Europe by pipeline. There is a trade in gas transported by sea, but it would be very difficult to compensate for a major disruption of supplies from Russia.

The sanctions would also expand the visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials and entities, including separatist leaders in Ukraine.

Earlier Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that Moscow would respond "asymmetrically" to further sanctions.

A Russian airspace ban "could drive many struggling airlines into bankruptcy", he told a Russian daily.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Russian gas exports will not be affected if new sanctions are put in place, diplomats say

12-point peace roadmap - key elements

  • Ensure an immediate bilateral ceasefire
  • Carry out decentralisation of power, allowing temporary local self-government in areas of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine under a "special status" law
  • Immediately free all hostages and illegally detained persons
  • Ensure monitoring on the Ukrainian-Russian border and a security zone
  • Ensure the holding of snap local elections in Donetsk and Luhansk
  • Remove illegal armed groups, military hardware, and all fighters and mercenaries from Ukrainian territory
  • Pass a law against the prosecution and punishment of people over certain events in Donetsk and Luhansk region

Posted by the OSCE on its website (in Russian)