US, EU agree on more sanctions if Russia disrupts Ukrainian elections
The United States and its European allies have found broad unity that Russia should face sectoral sanctions if the Kremlin tries to disrupt Ukrainian elections later this month, a senior US official said today.
US Secretary of State John Kerry briefed some key European Union foreign ministers on US thinking about sectoral sanctions against Russia, which would cover some of Russia's largest sectors including mining, gas, banking, finance and defence.
The next phase of punitive measures would use "a scalpel rather than a hammer" and would focus on new investment in those areas, the official told reporters after Kerry's meeting with his European counterparts in London.
Washington and the EU and have already imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russian individuals and some companies, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of stoking the eastern rebellions, a charge Putin has denied.
"All ministers, led by Secretary Kerry, underscored that a free, fair election across Ukraine, including the east on May 25 is absolutely essential," a senior State Department official told reporters in London.
"There was broad unity in the room that if the elections are disrupted and Moscow's hand is behind that, that we need to move to sectoral sanctions," the official said. "There was no dissent on that subject."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Kremlin's approach to the Ukrainian elections would determine whether wider economic and trade sanctions would be applied to Russia.
"We all agreed to continue preparation for these sanctions while of course urging Russia to stop any actions that prevent the elections going ahead peacefully," Hague said after meeting Kerry with counterparts from Germany, France and Italy.