The Washington Post

Ukraine ready to impose sanctions on Russia

— The Ukrainian government is prepared to impose sanctions against Russia that could include bans on some flights over the country and gas supplies to Western Europe, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Friday.

The cabinet proposed sanctions that could affect 172 Russian individuals and 65 companies and organizations, if the measure is approved by parliament Tuesday. The people and firms subject to sanctions are accused of sponsoring “terrorism,” which is how the government describes the tactics of separatists battling government troops in eastern Ukraine. They also are deemed to have been supportive of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The government said 26 different types of sanctions would be employed, including freezing assets and the expropriation of property.

Russia is Ukraine’s second-largest trade partner after the European Union. Russian-owned companies are deeply interwoven in the Ukrainian economy. Wealthy Russians own luxury hotels, cigarette distributors, malls, banks, insurers and cellphone providers, to name a few.

Yatsenyuk estimated that the sanctions could cost the faltering economy up to $7 billion this year, and it will need Western aid and trade with European markets to survive.

“We simply have no other choice,” he said of the decision to impose sanctions. “Ukraine is going to search the globe for the property of those who supported the annexation of Crimea.”

Though the consequences were not immediately clear, they are expected to be far-reaching.

“This includes the possible halting of all types of transit, from air flights to transit of resources,” Yatsenyuk told reporters.

The impact will be felt by many ordinary Ukrainians and extend beyond the country’s border. The European Union imports about 15 percent of its natural gas through Ukraine’s pipelines. Gazprom, the Russian state-run energy company, also uses a northern pipeline that bypasses Ukraine.

In a dispute over price and debt, Gazprom no longer sells gas to Ukraine, but the country has been using reserves and has considered importing gas through third parties in Europe. Many Ukrainian cities have stopped supplying hot water until winter arrives, and the government says its ultimate aim is to achieve energy independence.

The U.S. government has been encouraging Ukraine’s government to impose sanctions, as the U.S. and Western Europe have done. Ukrainian officials have said they wanted to follow a similar strategy by targeting sanctions against Russia’s military, financial and energy sectors.

Early in the day, the Culture Ministry announced that 14 Russian artists would be banned from exhibiting and performing in Ukraine. They include some popular singers whose concerts will have to be canceled.

The ministry said the artists were blacklisted because they supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March, though it was unclear what type of activity constituted support.

Carol Morello is the diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, covering the State Department.
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