The United States announced today new sanctions, related to the annexation of Crimea, targeted against three Russian and Ukrainian personalities and against nine legal entities.
The US Treasury Department announced Thursday the imposition of new sanctions against three Russian and Ukrainian personalities as well as nine legal entities, related to the annexation of Crimea and the conflict of Donbass. This decision, very political, comes two days of elections scheduled in the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk, intended to appoint a new president after the assassination of the previous, Alexander Zakharchenko, killed in a bomb attack in late August. The same electoral process will take place in the self-proclaimed neighboring Lugansk Republic also in the hands of pro-Russian separatist Kremlin-sponsored separatists.
Western countries, and Washington in particular, consider the poll “illegitimate” and contrary to the Minsk peace accords signed in February 2015 between Moscow, Kiev, Paris and Berlin. This is the twenty-seventh set of sanctions decided by the White House since the events of spring 2014 that hit hundreds of politicians and economic and legal entities. One of the entities targeted on Thursday – the Southern Project limited liability company – is linked to the Rossiya bank and the Russian businessman Yuri Kovalchuk, a very close to Vladimir Putin.
Moscow accuses Kiev of not respecting the Minsk agreements.
“Russia commands and controls 100% of what is happening in these occupied territories, military forces, political entities as well as direct economic activity,” Kurt Volker, the US special envoy for Ukrainian negotiations, told a telephone interview held earlier in the afternoon. The latter defended the imposition of “robust sanctions” intended, in his opinion, to force Moscow to work for a political solution.
According to Russia, this vote is made necessary by the risk, according to her, of an increased destabilization of the territory after the violent death of Alexander Zakharchenko. The Kremlin also evokes its fear of a political vacuum. For its part, Moscow accuses Kiev of not respecting the Minsk agreements. “The organization of legitimate elections presupposes freedom of movement, campaigning, freedom of the press and expression, conditions that are not currently fulfilled,” retorts the US representative Kurt Volker, who defends the sending on-site UN peacekeeping mission supervised.
Already on 30 October, eight European members of the Security Council, including France, had issued a joint statement read in the UN compound, explaining that the elections of 11 November “would violate the Minsk agreements and violate Ukrainian law.”