Yesterday (2 March 2014) US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the USA is considering imposing sanctions against Russia for what the Obama administration has described as “a brazen act of aggression” in Ukraine.

Mr Kerry said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ that “there are visa bans, asset freezes, isolation with respect to trade, investment… American businesses may well want to start thinking twice about whether they want to do business with a country that behaves like this. These are serious implications.”  He also said that the nations of the G8 are “prepared to put sanctions in place.  They’re prepared to isolate Russia economically…every single one of them are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia.”

The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has announced that there will be an extraordinary meeting of EU Heads of State in Brussels this Thursday (6 March) to discuss the situation in Ukraine.  The Telegraph reports that EU foreign ministers are discussing whether to call Russia’s seizure of Crimea an “invasion” or a “clear violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Ukraine, and will warn Russia that unless it pulls back then sanctions will follow. See our previous blog on the EU’s announcement of sanctions against those responsible for the violence in Ukraine and the Joint Proposal of the European Commission and Council of a Council Regulation on 24 February 2014.

The British Government has not announced whether there will be EU sanctions. Foreign Minister William Hague has said that “If Russia cannot be persuaded to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, there will have to be other consequences and other costs. I am not going to set out today what all of those are. We will act in a united way with other nations in the world.”  A spokesman for the British Prime Minister David Cameron stated: “When it comes to the next steps around what the costs may be, the right thing is for there to be discussions – as there are – with our international partners in the G7 and EU…The only avenue that is being pursued is a peaceful and diplomatic one, and I think our G7 partners have been very clear about that as well.” A leaked document suggests that the British Government may be in favour of targeted sanctions (visa bans and asset freezes) but not broader trade sanctions against Russia.  The FT has analysed the likelihood of different kinds of sanctions being imposed.

Russia’s Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov commented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva that “Those who are trying to interpret the situation as a sort of aggression and threatening us with sanctions and boycotts, these are the same partners who have been consistently and vigorously encouraging the political powers close to them to declare ultimatums and renounce dialogue… We call upon them to show a responsibility and to set aside geopolitical calculations and put the interests of the Ukrainian people above all.”

This entry was posted in Latest EU Measures, USA by Maya Lester QC. Bookmark the permalink.

About Maya Lester QC

Maya Lester QC has a wide ranging practice in public law, European law, competition law, international law, human rights & civil liberties. She has a particular expertise in sanctions. As the most recent (2016) Chambers & Partners directory put it, she "owns the world of sanctions". She spent 2011-12 in New York at Columbia Law School lecturing and writing on sanctions. She represents and advises hundreds of companies and individuals before the European and English courts and has acted in most of the leading cases, including Kadi, Tay Za, Central Bank of Iran, NITC and IRISL.

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