On 16 September 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree levelling sanctions against 382 people and approximately 100 entities said to be responsible for unrest in eastern Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea. This follows the adoption of legislation in August 2014 creating a legal framework for the imposition of sanctions on countries, foreign individuals and foreign entities (see Issue 25 of the Sanctions Alert), and is the first instance of any sanctions being imposed by Ukraine since the eastern Ukraine conflict first broke out in April 2014.

In addition, flights by Russian airlines will be banned from Ukrainian airports from 25 October 2015, and Russian planes carrying military hardware or troops will not be allowed to overfly Ukraine. Russia responded that it would take retaliatory measures against Ukrainian airlines.

President Poroshenko stated that the listings were triggered by recent announcements by pro-Russian separatists, led by Alexander Zakharchenko, that local elections are to be held in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on 18 October.

The listings include Russian politicians such as Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu, a number of pro-Russian separatist leaders in Ukraine and major Russian entities such as Gazprombank. President Poroshenko initially faced a backlash for including the names of a number of European journalists on the list. BBC foreign editor, Andrew Roy, described the inclusion of three BBC journalists as “a shameful attack on media freedom.” Poroshenko subsequently removed the names of three BBC journalists, two Spanish reporters and a German journalist on 17 September 2015, the day after signing the decree. The complete list of people and entities subject to Ukraine sanctions can be viewed here (link in Ukrainian)