Dutch PM says EU will announce initial sanctions against Russia
The European Union will announce a "limited package of sanctions" against the Russian people who were involved in the decision to recognize the independence of two renegade regions in eastern Ukraine, said Prime Minister Mark Rutte. If Russia actually invades its neighboring country, "massive sanctions will follow," he warned.
Rutte said that the sanctions will likely target people in the Russian parliament who were involved in the vote to call upon President Vladimir Putin to recognize the Ukrainian regions. There will also be sanctions against people in the renegade regions, and their financial interests. "Precise decision making is likely to take place tomorrow," he said during a broadcast of the television program, Jinek, on Monday evening.
If Russia "takes one step into Ukraine, a massive package of sanctions will be ready," the Dutch prime minister said. Entering the renegade “people's republics” will be enough to trigger the start of this heavy package, Rutte said. He called Putin's decision to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk a "major escalation" and "really very serious.”
Putin also announced a military "peace mission" in Donetsk and Luhansk on Monday. He ordered military personnel to maintain peace in the two regions where pro-Russian separatists there have been embroiled in a military conflict with the Ukrainian government since 2014, which has left some 15,000 dead.
Tensions rose again last week after both sides accused each other of artillery shelling. The separatist leaders evacuated some 70,000 people to Russia in a matter of days
NATO Secretary General to meet with Rutte this week
Also on Monday evening, Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said that the Netherlands “strongly condemned” Russia’s recognition of the two regions as independent.
“The recognition of the separatist territories in Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law, the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and Minsk agreements,” Hoekstra said on Twitter. The Minsk Accords established a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. “The Netherlands strongly condemns this act and will respond firmly in close coordination with our EU & NATO partners.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will meet with Rutte on Wednesday in The Hague. “Discussions will include NATO modernization and the situation at the border between Russia and Ukraine,” the government’s press office announced on Monday.
Reporting by ANP.