EU Imposing New Sanctions on Russia, Ukraine Says Russian Troops Leaving, Prisoner Exchange

EU Imposing New Sanctions on Russia, Ukraine Says Russian Troops Leaving, Prisoner Exchange

(Reuters) – European Union governments agreed on Thursday to begin their new sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis on Friday but could lift them next month if Moscow abides by a fragile truce, while the United States prepared its own fresh sanctions.

The steps are the latest by the United States and the EU following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and what the West sees as an effort since then to further destabilize Ukraine by backing pro-Russian separatists with troops and arms.

President Barack Obama said he will provide details on the new U.S. sanctions on Friday. The United States plans to sanction Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and to further limit other Russian banks’ access to U.S. capital, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.  Read More:


Ukraine’s president has claimed that most Russian forces have left his country in the latest conciliatory move aimed at stoking a peace campaign that began last week, while the European Union slapped new economic sanctions on Russia.

Reuters reported that Petro Poroshenko told a televised Cabinet meeting that “70 percent of Russian troops have been moved back across the border … This further strengthens our hope that the peace initiatives have good prospects.”

He also said 700 Ukrainian prisoners had been freed from rebel captivity and expressed hope that another 500 would be freed by the end of the week.

Estimates of the number of Russian troops that have taken part in the five-month old Ukrainian conflict have varied, with NATO estimating that at least 1,000 regular forces have been involved. For its part, Moscow has repeatedly denied training or equipping separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko added the cease-fire was being tested by “terrorists” who attempted to provoke Ukrainian government forces. Ukraine claims that five servicemen have been killed during the cease-fire, while a civilian also died as a result of shelling in the port city of Mariupol.


Prisoner Exchange:

Defense forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic have exchanged a batch of prisoners with the Ukrainian army in a move that was stipulated as one of the key issues of the Minsk ceasefire agreement reached between the two sides last week.

“The exchange has taken place,” a representative of the DPR’s defense ministry told Interfax. “We handed 36 prisoners over to the Kiev side in exchange for 31 our supporters. Five more Kiev promises to hand over tomorrow.”

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