G7 Agree on New Sanctions Against Russia
The Group of 7 major economies (G7) announced Saturday that it will pass more sanctions against Russia, with President Barack Obama telling Russia the U.S. prepared sanctions are ready to be imposed as early as Monday morning.
The US, European Union, Russia, and Ukraine signed an agreement in Russia to ease tensions in east Ukraine. The G7 applauded the efforts taken by Ukraine, which include taking over checkpoints outside of Sloviansk, a city in Donetsk Oblast held by pro-Russian forces. One incident resulted in the deaths of five pro-Russian fighters. Although Ukraine took part in the agreement, Russia condemned the move and said troops on the border will engage in military exercises. These moves are unacceptable to the G7:
In contrast, Russia has taken no concrete actions in support of the Geneva accord. It has not publicly supported the accord, nor condemned the acts of pro-separatists seeking to destabilize Ukraine, nor called on armed militants to leave peacefully the government buildings they've occupied and put down their arms. Instead, it has continued to escalate tensions by increasingly concerning rhetoric and ongoing threatening military maneuvers on Ukraine's border.
The pro-Russian forces captured Sloviansk on April 12 and kidnapped many journalists and politicians. Ukrainian Deputy Volodymyr Rybak was found with a sandbag tied around his waist and his stomach slashed a week after he was reported missing. American journalist Simon Ostrovsky was kidnapped, but released on Thursday. He was blindfolded and beaten:
On Monday night I was pulled out of a car at a checkpoint, then blindfolded, beaten, and tied up with tape. After spending hours alone on the floor of a damp cell with my hands tied behind my back and a hat pulled over my eyes, I was led into a room where I was accused of working for the CIA, FBI and Right Sector, the Ukrainian ultranationalist group.
When I refused to give the password to my laptop, I was smacked in the arm with a truncheon. When I was asleep on the floor, masked men came to wake me up and tell me how no one would miss me if I died, and then kicked me in the ribs as they left.
He said he saw a dozen other detainees in the cellar, including Artyom Deyneha, a local computer programmer, Serhiy Lefter, a freelance journalist, and Vadim Sukhonos, a deputy in the city council.
On Friday, though, it was revealed that forces in Sloviansk kidnapped eight Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) members on suspicion of being NATO spies because they had maps that pinpointed the checkpoints. But this should not be a surprise to the pro-Russian forces, since it was announced that the Geneva agreement included sending in OSCE members to report on the situation and help bring peace to the region.
The G7 did not release details of the sanctions or when the EU sanctions will be passed.