It is being reported that an extraordinary meeting of EU Foreign Ministers has been called for 20 February 2014, in response to growing violence in Ukraine.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, said in a statement today that he expected the EU to adopt “targeted measures against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force“. High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton added that “All possible options will be explored, including restrictive measures against those responsible for repression and human rights violations.”
Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is reported to have said that “Whoever is responsible for the decisions which has led to the bloodshed in Kiev and other parts of Ukraine should expect Europe to reconsider its position on imposing sanctions on individuals.”
News agencies have reported the Ukrainian Ministry of Health’s estimate of 19 February 2014, that 25 people have been killed in recent violence as riot police attempted to clear protestors from Independence Square in Kiev. In a statement released on 19 February 2014, President Yanukovich said that “Without any mandate from the people, illegally and in breach of the constitution of Ukraine, these politicians – if I may use that term – have resorted to pogroms, arson and murder to try to seize power.” President Yanukovich, who retains strong support in Moscow, has declared 20 February 2014, a day of mourning for the dead.
Reports have suggested that the United States is considering sanctions for both sides of the dispute. US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt is reported to have released a statement on Twitter, stating that “We believe Ukraine’s crisis can still be solved via dialogue, but those on both sides who fuel violence will open themselves to sanctions. This follows an earlier statement by him on 5 February 2014, when he was quoted as saying that “If such scenarios as the introduction of state of emergency or an attempt to clear the Independence Square take place, we will resort to serious economic and visa sanctions against Ukraine.”
Several calls within the EU for the imposition of sanctions have been reported in recent weeks. On 10 February 2014, a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels led to a number of statements on the threat of EU sanctions against Ukraine. Lubomir Zaoralek, Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, was reported as saying that the EU must be ready to impose sanctions if the Ukrainian authorities persist in using violence against protestors.
Ukraine has been hit by more than two months of unrest following a decision by President Viktor Yanukovich not to pursue trade and other deals with the European Union.