France says Russia sanctions over Ukraine could come this week

The head of the Ukrainian opposition UDAR (PUNCH) party Vitali Klitschko (L) and the Ukrainian member of parliament and businessman Petro Poroshenko speak to journalists after a meeting at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris, on March 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD

PARIS: French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned Tuesday that sanctions against Russia could come as early as this week if Moscow does not respond to Western proposals to solve the crisis in Ukraine.

"If they respond positively (to the proposals), (US Secretary of State) John Kerry will go to Moscow, and then sanctions will not be immediate. If they do not respond or if they respond negatively, there will be a series of sanctions that could be taken as early as this week," he said on France Inter radio.

Kerry sent Russia a series of proposals to try and de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, where Kremlin-backed forces have seized the Crimea peninsula, which now plans to hold a referendum Sunday on switching the region's allegiance from Kiev to Moscow.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a televised meeting Monday that the proposals "do not suit us very much", adding Moscow would unveil its own solution to the crisis.

Fabius said the sanctions would involve "freezing personal assets of Russians or Ukrainians and sanctions on travel, regarding visas."

He added that Sunday's referendum in Crimea is "illegal".





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