Ashton condemns shooting of Kharkiv mayor, detention of OSCE military observers in Sloviansk
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in southeastern Ukraine and the "downward spiral of violence and intimidation" undermining the functioning of the legitimate state institutions.
"A number of people have been killed, wounded, tortured or kidnapped in the last few days. I notably condemn the shooting of Mayor of Kharkiv Hennadiy Kernes yesterday and the detention of military observers from OSCE participating states in Sloviansk by armed separatists since last Friday," Ashton said in a statement issued in Brussels.
"Today, we added 15 names to the list of those subject to sanctions for threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. All persons still illegally detained by armed groups in eastern Ukraine need to be immediately released," she said.
She also expressed concern about continued attacks on journalists and the deterioration of media freedom environment in eastern Ukraine, including the illegal seizure of TV transmission towers.
She said that "these developments run counter to the Joint Geneva Statement on Ukraine of April 17, which set out key steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security."
She welcomed "the concrete actions taken so far by the Ukrainian government in this regard," notably the pledge to strengthen the powers of the regions and give a prominent status to the Russian language, the drafting of a law giving amnesty to those who freely lay down their arms and the continued collection of illegal weapons.
"I call on Russia to take now concrete action in support of the Geneva accord," Ashton said.
She said that the EU would continue to monitor developments closely and if necessary would look at possible additional individual measures.