EU and US to Sanction Russia for the First Time since the Cold War

Written by | Monday, March 17th, 2014

The European Union and the United States agreed on Wednesday (March 12) to sanction Russia, which will be for the first time since the end of the Cold War. US President Barack Obama warned his Russian counterpart that his country was facing costs from the West unless he decides to change the “policy” on Crimea. Barack Obama said the US would “stay with Ukraine” as he met with the new Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, in Washington. While in Washington, Mr Yatseniuk vowed that his country “would never surrender”.
Both Ukrainian and American heads of state moreover drafted a potential diplomatic opening that could give Russians a greater say on the situation in the disputed peninsula. A referendum on whether Crimea should become a part of Russia is scheduled to take place in on Sunday (March 16). Mr Yatseniuk confirmed as well that his government was ready to hold talks with Russia how to satisfy their concerns regarding the rights of ethnic Russians on the peninsula. He added that if this whole thing was about Crimea, then he was ready to commence a nationwide dialogue about how to increase the autonomous status of Crimea including taxes or language issues.
As to the sanctions themselves, the EU outlined that they would include travel bans and asset freezing on selected individuals (who are not yet chosen) as well as companies accused by Brussels of violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine. According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the measures are to be imposed on next Monday (March 17) unless diplomatic progress is made before then. European sanctions are very similar to those already imposed by the United States but are expected to have a far greater impact. The EU is Russia’s number one trading partner with most of the mutual trade being in natural resources. In 2013, the volume of the mutual EU-Russia trade was about 335 billion euros, which is about ten times more than that of Russia-US one.

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