Scores of deaths in the ongoing anti-government protests in Ukraine are leading to heightened global concerns. The foreign ministers of the European Union held an emergency meeting in Brussels today where they unanimously voted to impose sanctions on Ukraine. The sanctions are likely to include travel bans on some officials as well as potential asset freezes. It was also noted that the scope of the sanctions will be adjusted based on developments on the ground.
The EU ministers also said member countries had agreed “to suspend export licenses on equipment which might be used for internal repression” in Ukraine. No more specifics were provided, but from the description this kind of equipment likely includes firearms, ammunition, pepper spray, water cannons and anti-riot protection gear for police.
A reliable anonymous source told the AP that the names of Ukrainian officials to be targeted by sanctions was still being drawn up.
“The European Union is appalled and deeply dismayed by the deteriorating situation in Ukraine. No circumstances can justify the repression we are currently witnessing,” the E.U. ministers said in a statement.
The foreign ministers also called on both side in the Ukraine crisis to undertake immediate dialogue, and offered any and all possible assistance to help calm the situation.
Foreign ministers from France, Germany and Poland also announced they would continue ongoing talks with Ukrainian government officials and opposition leaders in Kiev.
Concerns over “civil war” in Ukraine
Given the spiraling violence and the intensity of emotions in the current situation, a number of sources have raised the specter of civil war in Ukraine. Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk told his parliament yesterday that Ukraine could be heading towards civil war and that neighboring nations must prepare for many refugees.
In a related development, the United States has canceled the visas of several Ukrainian officials in connection with the ongoing violence.