McCully announces sanctions over Crimea seizure

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced what he called "modest and careful" sanctions against specific individuals deemed responsible for the seizure of Crimea from Ukraine and its annexation by Russia.

The sanctions will be limited to a travel ban, a largely symbolic protest given the sparse high-level traffic between Russia and New Zealand.

Mr McCully has not yet specified how many or to whom it would apply.

But the European Union has imposed a travel ban against 33 individuals as well as freezing assets of the target in EU countries. The United States has similarly imposed sanctions against 31 individuals and targeted close aides of Russia president Vladimir Putin.

Mr McCully said New Zealand did not recognise the outcome of the referendum in Crimea supporting a split away from Ukraine to Russia - Russia has now formally annexed Crimea.

"Applying sanctions will position New Zealand alongside other members of the International community who have condemned the breach of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said.

"These travel sanctions are a modest and careful step designed to recognise the significance of the situation but leave room for further diplomatic work to take place."

He said New Zealand continued to encourage Russia to behave in a manner consistent with its treaty obligations and the principles of international law and called on all parties to take immediate steps to reduce tensions.

The travel ban is not expected to include the Russian foreign minister.

Trade Minister Tim Groser was in Moscow earlier this month attempting to conclude a free trade deal with Russia but was pulled out by the Government after Russia moved into Crimea.

- Audrey Young of the New Zealand Herald

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