May 12 - The EU takes a cautious step towards extending sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, targeting companies, as well as people. Joanna Partridge looks at what it will take to trigger more hard-hitting economic sanctions.
A referendum result that surprised no one - and that's already drawn international criticism. In Donestk, pro-Russian separatists declared victory and 89% of the votes in the poll on self-rule for eastern Ukraine. British Foreign Secretary William Hague. SOUNDBITE: William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, saying (English): "These attempts at referendums have zero credibility in the eyes of the world. They are illegal by anybody's standards, they don't meet any standard, not a single standard of objectivity, transparency, fairness or being properly conducted as a public referendum or election and indeed the people organizing them didn't even pretend to meet any of those standards. The important thing is that the Ukrainian elections go ahead on the 25th of May." While the EU won't recognise the result of the vote, Moscow said it respected the outcome. But Hague and his European counterparts responded by expanding sanctions over Russia's action in Ukraine. Adding 13 people to the bloc's sanctions list and widening its scope by including two Crimea-based companies. That's on top of the 48 Russians and Ukrainians already targeted with EU asset freezes and visa bans. Frank-Walter Steinmeier is German Foreign Minister. SOUNDBITE: Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister, saying (German): "The European Union is not yearning to go beyond the second phase of the current sanctions, an escalation of economic sanctions, leading to an economic war. That is not our purpose or goal. Our goal is to calm the situation in Ukraine." The EU hasn't yet targeted high-profile Russian firms such as Gazprom. Richard Hunter from Hargreaves Lansdown says all eyes are now back on Moscow. SOUNDBITE: Richard Hunter, Head of Equities, Hargreaves Lansdown, saying (English): "The uncertainty comes from Putin's next move and of course whether his next move results in further political unrest and whether the rest of the world needs to engage in further sanctions." The EU says whether or not they implement the so-called third tier of sanctions on Russia will depend on Moscow's attitude to Ukraine's elections on 25th May.