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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: De nouvelles sanctions pour punir les "provocations" russes en Ukraine

by L’Humanité.fr avec l’AFP

Russian "Provocation" Prompts New Sanctions

The situation in Ukraine

Translated Monday 12 May 2014, by Hannah Mosford

On Monday new sanctions prepared by the United States and the United Kingdom against Moscow will likely to come into force. These follow on the heels of rising tensions in the separatist east of Ukraine where since Sunday rebels have been detaining a team of international military observers.

"It is important for us to take further steps sending a message to Russia that these kinds of destabilising activities taking place in Ukraine have to stop," American President Barack Obama said during Sunday’s press conference in Malaysia. "So long as Russia continues down a path of provocation rather than trying to resolve this issue peacefully and de-escalate it, there are going to be consequences and those consequences will continue to grow," he warned. While Ukraine has endeavoured to put the Geneva Agreement into practice, disarming militia and seeking a path out of the crisis, Russia "hasn’t lifted a finger to help", he said.
The G7 nations made the decision on Saturday to extend sanctions against Moscow with those of Washington to potentially come into force from Monday. In Europe, diplomats from the 28 EU member states are planning to meet on Monday to "put forward a supplementary list of sanctions for ’phase 2’". These could include such options as freezing assets and restrictions on travel.

Russian intervention in Ukraine

Russia - accused by Kiev and the West of fomenting troubles in Ukraine - has amassed 40 000 men at its western border where they have been carrying out "manoeuvres" for several days. This led a Western diplomat to confide in journalists that "We no longer exclude a Russian military intervention in Ukraine in the coming days". In addition, the US and Ukraine have accused Russia of violating Ukrainian airspace on several occasions on Friday night with the aim of "provoking a war". Russia, however, denies the allegations. In the face of these developments, the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, has decided to cut short his visit to Rome.
In a telephone conversation with his American counterpart, John Kerry, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian diplomatic chief, stressed "the necessity of urgent measures for de-escalation", firstly through the suspension of military operations against the rebels. Kiev, however, views it as an "anti-terrorist" operation.

13 observers accused of being NATO spies

Despite numerous calls for their release the fate of the 13 OSCE observers still remains uncertain. The OSCE observers have been detained in Sloviansk for two days now with the pro-Russian rebels describing them as "prisoners of war" on Sunday. From Vienna, the OSCE announced that it had sent a team of negotiators to Sloviansk to gain the freedom of its observers. Tatiana Baeva, spokesperson for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told the AFP that "they should arrive today". Kiev lost control of Sloviansk and its 100 000 inhabitants several days ago and the capital has now launched an "anti-terrorist" operation in an attempt to restore order. Ukrainian security services maintain that the members of this team - eight foreigners and five Ukrainian soldiers - are being detained in "inhuman conditions" and that one of them is in need of medical aid. However, according the Sloviansk separatist leader, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, "they have nothing to do with OSCE, they are soldiers", emphasizing that the observers didn’t have "permission" to enter the town. The German diplomatic chief, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has entered discussions with Mr Lavrov to persuade Russia to put pressure on the rebels to "release the OSCE team immediately".

Separatist referendum

Since Ukrainian tanks launched a brief and deadly assault, the separatist bastion of Sloviansk in the east of the country has been in a state of siege. Kiev says it has put a "blockade" in place to prevent pro-Russians from "receiving reinforcements", but the separatists are declaring that they will not give back the town. The stalemate continues with Moscow calling on Kiev to put an immediate end to its military offensive but with Kiev determined its "anti-terrorist operation" will continue, all while committing to show restraint. With the loss of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula which in March opted to rejoin Russia, is still uppermost in Ukrainian minds. Saturday’s news that separatists in Donetsk, a large industrial town in the east of the country, still intend to organize a referendum on 11 May on the "declaration of independence" of the Donetsk region is significant.

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