Foreign minister calls for European Council meeting on Russia sanctions
Foreign minister Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) has called for the convening of the European Council, to discuss further sanctions on the Russian Federation, following the continued escalation in tensions on that country's border with Ukraine, culminating in Monday's announcement that Russia 'recognized' two regions in eastern Ukraine as 'independent'.
Liimets, who is scheduled to travel to Kyiv on Wednesday, reaffirmed Estonia's support for Ukraine's territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, at a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels Tuesday, along with an informal meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.
Liimets said Putin's announcement that Russia would be "recognizing" the "independence" of the two easternmost Ukrainian regions, Donetsk and Lugansk, represents a severe violation of international law.
She said: "The decision taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin today to recognize the separatist so-called people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine is a grave violation of international law.
"It is also a clear violation of the terms of the Minsk agreements and a unilateral termination of the agreement. We will discuss this escalation immediately with our Allies and partners, and our position is that an immediate international assessment of Russia's actions is needed and sanctions must be implemented," the minister added.
These sanctions would be more rigorous than those imposed up until now, Liimets continued.
"Our message is clear: we will make no concessions in the security principles of Europe and together with our EU partners we are prepared to respond quickly to Russia's aggression with the most extensive sanctions so far," Liimets said, adding that sanctions would be extended to Belarus as well, if it turned out to have been complicit in the latest developments.
Liimets also said that Ukraine's own EU aspirations should not slip from focus amid escalating tensions and the crossing of the Ukraine border into Donetsk and Lugansk by Russian Federation "peacekeeping" forces, a development U.K. government minister Sajid Javid told Sky News constituted a full-scale invasion.
Liimets said: "It is crucial to support Ukraine's European ambitions in the EU and bilaterally. I am glad that at the meeting with my Ukrainian colleague, we were able to have an immediate conversation about their most urgent needs that need our response.
"At the EU level, we are looking for additional ways to support Ukraine's economy, and we must also ensure it has improved access to the EU market and support from member states in connecting Ukraine's power networks with Europe," the foreign minister added, via a press release.
EU sanctions against Belarus also needed to be updated, Liimets went on.
"A values-based foreign policy must be credible and the EU's restrictive measures must strengthen our security. I called on member states to revise the sanctions imposed against Belarus to make sure they are effective and serve their purpose," Liimets added.
Commission representative in Estonia: Financial, economic, individual sanctions drawn up
Vivian Loonela, Head of the European Commission Representation in Estonia, announced on her social media account Tuesday morning that the European Commission has prepared financial sanctions and economic sanctions in response Russia's aggressive actions, and the European External Action Service (EEAS) has also developed sanctions against individual Russian officials involved in the events leading up to Putin's announcement.
Humanitarian aid to add to the field hospital recently supplied to Ukraine, in cooperation with Germany, as well as knowledge-sharing in the field of strategic communications and cyber warfare.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte