On 12 May 2014, the EU announced that it was further expanding the sanctions imposed in connection with the situation in Ukraine in light of a perceived continuation of efforts to destabilise eastern and southern Ukraine. This briefing summarises the latest measures.
Please click here for our previous briefings on Ukraine sanctions.
Amendment to asset freeze measures
On 12 May 2014, Regulation 476/2014 was published in the EU Official Journal with immediate effect. The Regulation amends Regulation 269/2014 of 17 March 2014 by amending the EU's existing asset freezing powers, in particular to enable the listing of companies whose assets have been confiscated by the Crimean authorities.
The new amendments also allow for the listing of persons responsible for actively supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine the territorial sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, or stability or security in Ukraine, or which obstruct the work of international organisations in Ukraine. The previous designation power was confined to persons who are themselves responsible for actions which undermine Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence (and their associates); the extension to cover people who "actively support or implement" such actions or policies, and the reference to obstructing international organisations, are new.
Regulation 477/2014 (which also came into force on 12 May) lists the newly designated individuals and entities.
Thirteen individuals have been listed (largely members of separatist groups and officials involved in the control of Crimea), as have two entities – the first time that the EU has imposed sanctions on entities in connection with the situation in Ukraine. The two entities are PJSC Chernomoneftegaz and Feodosia, both of which are said to be enterprises that have been effectively confiscated by the Crimean authorities.
The designated individuals and entities will now be subject to the asset freezing measures (and, in respect of individuals, travel restrictions) detailed in our previous briefing and so all funds and economic resources belonging to, owned, held or controlled by the listed persons must be frozen and no funds or economic resources may be made available, directly or indirectly, to them or for their benefit.
The additional sanctions were announced by the EU in a press release which explained that they had been introduced "in the absence of any steps towards de-escalation".
The EU also released conclusions on Ukraine adopted at the 12 May Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, condemning any attempt to circumvent the sanctions regime and stating that "preparatory work by the Commission and Member States is underway on possible targeted measures, as requested by the European Council in March, so that further steps can be taken should events require. The European Union will pay particular attention to all parties' attitude and behaviour towards the holding of free and fair Presidential elections when deciding about possible future measures".
President van Rompuy also issued a separate press release following his meeting with Prime Minster Yatseyuk in Kiev. He called for the Geneva Joint Statement to be implemented and noted that further steps by Russia to destabilise the situation in Ukraine would lead to additional far reaching consequences for relations in a broad range of economic areas. He noted that preparatory work on this is underway.
Both EU and US sanctions relating to the situation in Ukraine continue to develop rapidly with both authorities placing significant importance on the presidential elections to be held on 25 May 2014 in determining any further steps.