EU Sanctions Top Russian Intelligence Officials Over Ukraine Conflict

Among the individuals targeted by the EU's new sanctions were Mikhail Fradkov, the director of the Foreign Intelligence Service. The travel bans and asset freezes were issued against 15 people and 18 entities over Russia's actions in Ukraine. EPA/KIRSTI TALSI FINLAND

By dpa correspondents

BRUSSELS (DPA) — The European Union has imposed sanctions against top Russian intelligence officials as it broadened its restrictive measures over the conflict in Ukraine.

The new travel bans and asset freezes were issued against 15 people and 18 entities, and published in the EU's Official Journal early Saturday and go into immediate effect.

Among the individuals were Mikhail Fradkov, the director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, and Aleksandr Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), for their involvement in "shaping the policy of the Russian government threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine."

The Moscow-appointed Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, was also on the list, as was Pavel Gubarev, the self-declared "people's governor" of Donetsk.

Gubarev "requested Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine, including through the deployment of Russian peacekeeping forces … is responsible for recruiting people for armed forces of separatists."

The EU said Kadyrov "made statements in support of the illegal annexation of Crimea and in support of the armed insurgency in Ukraine." Last month, Kadyrov "expressed his readiness to send 74,000 Chechen volunteers to Ukraine if requested to do so."

The new measures bring to 87 the number of people blacklisted for actions against Ukraine's territorial integrity, while 20 entities will now have been targeted.

The self-proclaimed "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as other illegal armed separatist groups were included in the list of 18 entities.

The EU on Friday said it is drafting legislation that could be used to implement economic sanctions against Russia, coming one step closer to carrying out the unprecendented measures.

Diplomats said EU ambassadors have agreed in principle to the sanctions, which would target Russia's access to capital markets, its defence sector, and its imports of dual-use goods and sensitive technologies, including in the energy sector.

The European Commission has been tasked with drafting legislative proposals by Tuesday, when ambassadors will reconvene in Brussels.

The EU has so far shied away from economic sanctions against Russia amid fears of repercussions for its own economy.

But the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 with 298 people on board in eastern Ukraine appears to have tipped the scales.

Asked about the timing of the sanctions, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: "What the EU does is a matter for the EU. We certainly have no plans to increase our sanctions."

His focus was to bring home the remains of Australian nationals, Abbott said, not the separate issue of "the geopolitics of Eastern Europe."

The United States, Ukraine and European countries have accused Moscow-backed rebels of firing at the Boeing 777, alleging there is also evidence to suggest Russian-made surface-to-air missiles were used in the doomed jetliner's downing.

Russia denies sending any such missiles to the rebels.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands and Australia continue to push for investigators' access to the rebel-controlled crash site, as a large piece of the fuselage was found eight days after the plane was shot down.

There were 194 Dutch citizens, 43 Malaysian citizens and 37 Australian nationals and residents on the plane that went down on July 17, near Ukraine's border with Russia, while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is to meet his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte in the Netherlands next week to discuss, among other issues, using Malaysian pathologists in expediting the process of identifying the remains.

The two leaders will also discuss securing full access to the crash site and the collection of evidence, a government statement said.

Malaysian Transport Minsiter Liow Tiong Lai said there are currently 17 Malaysian forensics experts in the Netherlands, 10 in Kiev and another 12 in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine.

Abbott said the last airlift of coffins from Kharkiv to the Netherlands will take place on Saturday. The Dutch government said 35 coffins carrying victims' remains are to be flown back. However, several bodies remain missing.

A total of 189 coffins containing the remains of victims have arrived in the Netherlands for identification, the government said. It is unclear how many bodies were in the caskets.