On 5 and 6 March 2014, the US, EU and Canada announced sanctions directed at officials of the former Ukrainian government and potentially at officials of the Russian government and other persons involved in the ongoing events in Crimea.
US President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order dated 6 March 2014 authorising sanctions against any individual or entity that the US Treasury Department determines:
- Undermines democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine;
- Threatens the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine;
- Misappropriates assets of the Ukrainian state or any “economically significant” entity located in Ukraine;
- Asserts unauthorised governmental authority over any part of Ukraine; or
- Is a “leader” of, provides material assistance to, or is owned or controlled by, any individual or entity that meets the criteria described above.
Currently, no individuals or entities have been designated. The property of individuals and entities to be designated under the Executive Order will be blocked (that is, their assets will be frozen) and they will be denied entry to the US. Separately, on 19 February 2014, the US State Department announced it was expanding the list of Russian officials subject to bans on visas to travel to the US, but it did not identify the officials by name. The US also has suspended joint military exercises with Russia and halted preparations for the planned G8 summit in Sochi.
The EU issued Council Regulation (EU) 208/2014 and Council Decision 2014/119/CFSP, both dated 5 March 2014 and published 6 March 2014, freezing the assets of 18 individuals associated with the former Ukrainian government. The targeted individuals include former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, former prime minister Mykola Azarov and other individuals suspected of misappropriating state funds or violating human rights. EU Member States have also agreed to suspend export licences on goods that could potentially be used for internal repression in Ukraine, and will reassess existing licences for goods on the EU Common Military List, including smooth-bore weapons, ammunition, explosives, chemical agents, military vehicles, naval vessels and military aircraft.
The EU has also reportedly halted talks with Russia on visa-free travel and has suspended preparations for the G8 summit. EU officials have stated that, in the absence of de- escalating steps by Russia, the EU would be considering additional asset freezes and visa restrictions.
On 5 March, the Government of Canada announced its own asset freeze against Yanukovych, Azarov and 16 others. According to a speech by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada imposed the asset freeze at the request of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine.