European Union governments reached a preliminary agreement on Tuesday (4 March) to freeze the assets of 18 Ukrainians, at Kyiv’s request, after Ukraine's new rulers said billions in public funds have gone missing.
The decision still needs to be made final in the coming days and follows similar moves last week by Austria, an EU member, as well as Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Austrian authorities have included Ukraine's ousted president, Viktor Yanukovich, in their list of targets but it was not clear whether his assets would now be frozen throughout the 28-nation bloc.
The principle of EU-wide sanctions targeted at officials responsible for the repression of the Euromaidan movement in Ukraine was already approved on 20 February, but the draft list was not made public.
EU foreign ministers said governments had decided to keep the threat of sanctions in reserve in case the situation in Ukraine grew worse, saying the Union would adjust its policy “in light of developments.”
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A statement from EU foreign ministers, adopted on Monday (3 March), said the EU was preparing “restrictive measures for the freezing and recovery of assets of persons identified as responsible for the misappropriation of State funds” and those “responsible for human rights violations” in Ukraine.
EU heads of states and government will meet in Brussels for an emergency meeting on Thursday to assess the situation in Ukraine.