Report: EU unlikely to sanction Ukraine over pro-EU protests

Dec. 2, 2013 at 11:35 AM

KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The European Union is unlikely to impose sanctions against Ukraine as pro-EU demonstrators call for the country's leadership to resign, a diplomat said.

The unnamed diplomat said individual European Union members could choose to freeze the foreign bank accounts of President Viktor Yanukovych's supporters to pressure him, EUobserver.com reported Sunday.

Protesters occupied a plaza in Kiev Monday after hundreds of thousands of people marched the day before in the largest demonstration since Yanukovych's decision not to sign a much-anticipated series of trade agreements with the European Union last month. At the time, Ukraine's government explained its change of heart by saying country's economy would suffer under the EU accords and pledged focus on strengthening ties with Russia.

The diplomat said there is no real desire for action at the European Union level, in part because the bloc doesn't want to isolate Ukraine and play into Russia's hands, EUobserver.com said.

The EU diplomat told EUobserver that EU countries could impose "smart sanctions" if police brutality escalates. Authorities reported Sunday about 100 police officers and more than 50 protesters were injured, including some with burns to their eyes from tear gas. Witnesses said some protesters, including women, had been beaten.

EU sources also noted that the rallies had been infiltrated by provocateurs bent on creating confusion.

"I don't think there will be any sanctions. Nobody wants Ukraine to turn into another Belarus," one source told EUobserver.com, referring to President Alexander Lukashenko's regime, which was slapped by EU bans and freezes, but hasn't shown any sign of reform.

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