EU sanctions ex-president Yanukovich, son of pro-Russian leader

EU sanctions ex-president Yanukovich, son of pro-Russian leader

The former President Yanukovich and his son are accused of undermining Ukraine's independence.

On Thursday, the European Council added former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and his son Aleksandr to its sanctions list. They accused the former Ukrainian leader, who was ousted during the 2014 coup, of playing a role in undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine as well as its stability and security. The council did not elaborate on why Yanukovich was added to the sanctions list, but instead called him pro-Russian. His son was accused of conducting transactions with the separatist groups in Donbass.

The EU sanctioned only Ukrainian nationals who were serving in different government positions in territories Russia took under its control during the military operation in Ukraine on February 24.

After being forced to flee Ukraine after the Maidan coup in February 2014, Yanukovich was granted asylum in Russia. In the year 2019, a Ukrainian court sentenced him in absentia to 13 years in prison on treason charges. The former president blamed the Ukrainian authorities for exercising unprecedented pressure on the court and said that the decision had nothing to do with the law. In March this year, some Ukrainian media outlets claimed that Russia was planning to reappoint Yanukovich as Ukraine's president, but offered no evidence to back up that assertion.

The EU has targeted Yanukovich and his son before. In March 2021, the European Council extended personal restrictions imposed against them in 2014 over alleged embezzlement of Ukraine's state funds, freezing their assets. The former president won a court battle against the EC in June of that year.

Yanukovich hasn't commented on the EU's newest decision. Russian military commanders and politicians as well as businessmen in the West declared to be close to the Kremlin and their family members are targeted by the personal sanctions imposed by the EU as well as the US and some of their allies across the world.

The EU sanctions in mid-July also included personal restrictions against Russian actors Sergey Bezrukov and Vladimir Mashkov, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin and the leader of Night Wolves biker club Aleksandr Zaldostanov, who was accused of publicly denying Ukraine's right to statehood. Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev's failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko admitted that Kiev's main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and create powerful armed forces. In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked.