Austrian FM: EU sanctions unlikely to target Russia CEOs
Sanctions the European Union plans to impose on Russian and Crimean officials who fostered the breakaway of Crimea from Ukraine are unlikely to include the chiefs of big Russian energy companies, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said.
In an interview with broadcaster ORF aired on Monday, Kurz said Sunday's referendum supporting Crimea's joining Russia was unacceptable and would trigger visa bans and assets freezes for political and military officials behind the move, Reuters reported.
The exact list of people to be put on the blacklist was still being negotiated by foreign ministers, he said.
Germany's Bild newspaper reported on Friday that the measures would include Gazprom head Alexei Miller and Rosneft head Igor Sechin.
"This is not expected at this time," Kurz said when asked about the two men. "I think picking business bosses indiscriminately would be a wrong step."
An initial list of 120 to 130 names will be whittled down to "tens or scores" before EU foreign ministers take the final decision in Brussels on Monday, diplomats said.
The vast majority of residents of Crimea - 96 percent - voted to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, in a referendum held March 16.
With the exception of Russia most countries refused to recognize the referendum and its results.
A change of power took place in Ukraine on Feb.22.
The Verkhovna Rada (parliament) ousted President Viktor Yanukovych from the power, changed the constitution and scheduled presidential elections for May 25. Yanukovych said that he was forced to leave Ukraine under the threat of violence, and he remains the legally elected head of state. A number of provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine, as well as the Crimea did not recognize the legitimacy of the Rada and decided on possibility of holding a referendum on the future fate of the regions.