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Europe

EU to sanction Ukraine separatists, think about Russia

The EU will blacklist more Ukrainian separatists but not issue new sanctions against Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made a number of specific references to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed to freeze the assets of and ban travel for some Ukrainian separatists. However, for now Russia has escaped further economic sanctions.

The EU foreign affairs coordinator said engagement with Russia and reforms in Ukraine should supplement the penalties already in place.

"Sanctions in themselves are not an objective," Federica Mogherini (right in photo) said on Monday.

The European Union has fallen short of a united stance on Ukraine, initially targeting individuals after Russia's annexation of Crimea in March, and then broadening penalties to target the country's overall economy after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July, allegedly by separatists.

Officials in Kyiv had urged the European Union to go even further on Monday, with Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin (left in photo) calling for a "clear message" to Russia with "robust" sanctions if the country continued to destabilize Ukraine.

'Righteous'

Fresh bloodshed between the separatists and forces loyal to Ukraine's government has added to the tensions after Russian President Vladimir Putin left a G20 summit in Australia early amid criticism from fellow leaders.

On Monday, Putin rejected claims that Russia had sent troops and equipment into Ukraine to buttress the separatists in a conflict that has killed 4,100 people since spring, saying that "righteous" fighters would "always get weapons."

G20: Putin departs

Putin beat an early retreat following testy talks at the G20

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the fallout from the conflict in Ukraine could spread, saying that the annexation of Crimea "called the whole of the European peaceful order into question, and it has continued by Russia's exporting its influence to destabilize eastern Ukraine."

Merkel, who grew up in the former East Germany, said she did not want to return to an era when Russia had to be consulted on just about everything. Just over a week after Merkel joined the rest of Germany in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the chancellor said that it was time to "show what we've learned from that."

"The Ukraine crisis is most likely not just a regional problem," Merkel said Monday in her speech at the Lowy Institute for International Peace, an Australian think tank. "In this case, we see it affects us all."

Merkel had also discussed the issue with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit. On Monday, Moscow expelled German and Polish diplomats in a tit-for-tat measure for similar expulsions of Russian staff from those countries.

mkg/se (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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