MOSCOW, March 5 (RIA Novosti) – The European Union has no plans to impose sanctions on Russia over the recent events in Ukraine, Russia’s EU envoy said Tuesday, commenting on a statement a day earlier by European foreign ministers.
EU foreign ministers who met in Brussels on Monday evening demanded an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops to their legitimate bases in Crimea under international agreements reached with Ukraine.
While the statement was couched in strong language, it was light on specific actions that the EU intends to take in response to the crisis with Russia over Ukraine.
The EU ministers warned that “in the absence of de-escalating steps by Russia, the EU shall decide about consequences for bilateral relations between the EU and Russia.” This could include suspension of talks on reform of visa regulations and “further targeted measures.”
“Let’s stick to legally correct terms: sanctions can only be imposed by the UN Security Council, everything else is just unilateral restrictive measures. No such measures by the European Union against Russia are on the agenda at present,” envoy Vladimir Chizhov said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel.
Chizhov said that “no one ever mentioned” a full EU entry ban on all Russians, but said that talks between Moscow and Brussels on a visa-free regime have been “de-facto frozen by the EU.”
Troops under apparent Russian command, many of them traveling in military trucks and armored personnel carriers, have deployed widely around Crimea, as attested by numerous eyewitness accounts from reporters on the ground. The deployment led to strong condemnation of Russia worldwide.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday denied such a deployment had taken place, however, insisting that the troops were part of “local militias.”