WATCH ABOVE: Pro-Russian protesters orchestrated the ballots in Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukraine’s government and western leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have called the vote illegal. Mike Armstrong reports.
BRUSSELS, Belgium – European Union foreign ministers have added 13 people to its visa ban and asset freeze list over Ukraine but are not expected to take tougher measures before the May 25 elections in the east European nation, officials said Monday.
Beyond the 13 people, two enterprises were also added to the list by the 28 EU ministers, according to two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the measure had yet to be officially announced.
Watch: Pro-Kyiv gunmen storm the only polling station in the city of Krasnoarmiisk, 80 kilometres west of Donetsk, preventing voting in a referendum on sovereignty of the heavily populated eastern Donetsk region. Several people were reported killed.
The EU had previously ordered visa bans and asset freezes for 48 people, but it is the first time it includes businesses on the list. The decision follows a preliminary approval by EU officials last week to allow sanctions against companies, as the Obama administration has done in a separate U.S. sanctions list that targets several close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin and their assets.
After Monday’s addition a total of 61 people are included on the EU list.
Beyond the visa and asset measures, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that it is essential to show Moscow the bloc is ready to step up measures further “depending on Russia’s attitude toward the elections” in Ukraine.
He joined other ministers at the foreign ministers meeting in Brussels in dismissing Sunday’s referendums in parts of eastern Ukraine as shams of democracy, saying “they are illegal by anybody’s standards.”
Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans said there was room to add more people to that list before considering tougher action.
© The Associated Press, 2014