Saturday, June 28, 2014

EU Gives Russia Three Days to De-Escalate Ukraine Crisis

The European Council on Friday said it would give Moscow three days to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, or it will impose new sanctions against Russia, according to a statement published Friday. The European Council also set conditions for the de-escalation. "The European Council expects that by Monday, 30 June the following steps will be taken: Agreement on a verification mechanism, monitored by the OSCE, for the ceasefire and for the effective control of the border; return to the Ukrainian authorities of the three border checkpoints (Izvarino, Dolzhanskiy, Krasnopartizansk); release of hostages including all of the OSCE observers; launch of substantial negotiations on the implementation of President [Petro] Poroshenko's peace plan," the statement reads. The European Council said it regrets that the ceasefire, “while being respected by the Ukrainian authorities,” has not led to the full cessation of military hostilities and called upon the sides to “genuinely commit to the implementation of the peace plan and to cement the cessation of the military activities.” The EU has adopted and repeatedly expanded the sanctions list to people they believe played a role in “violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” A total of 61 Russian and Ukrainian nationals have been hit with EU travel bans and asset freezes over the crisis. Several Crimean enterprises have also been targeted by the EU sanctions. Moscow has repeatedly stated that the language of sanctions is “inappropriate and counterproductive” and warned its western partners about the “boomerang effect” sanctions would have.

Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia Sign Association Deals with EU

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and the European Union signed association agreements that foresee the creation of a free-trade zone with the EU during a summit in Brussels Friday. Kiev has only signed the economic part of its association agreement. Following the political upheaval in Ukraine, the EU’s heads of state and governments decided to split the association agreement into two parts. The political part of the agreement was signed on March 21. The economic section of the agreement stipulates the free-trade zone is to go into effect in the fall, after it is ratified by the Ukrainian parliament. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry hopes the legislature will approve the EU association agreement in July. Russia has free-trade agreements with Ukraine and Moldova in the CIS framework while Georgia, which is not a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, is still party to several CIS trade agreements.