US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker has called on Washington and Brussels to consider new sanctions against Moscow over last Sunday's incident in the Kerch Strait.
In an interview for Suddeutsche Zeitung, Volker, a former CIA analyst and NATO staffer, said that it "would be very good if the Europeans looked at additional sanctions, and we in Washington were to do the same."
Russia detained three Ukrainian Navy vessels and their 24 crewmembers, including two members of Ukraine's Security Service, after they violated Russia's maritime borders and engaged in dangerous maneuvers in and around the Kerch Strait last Sunday. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a pre-planned provocation, and said it seemed to be connected to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's low approval ratings ahead of next spring's presidential elections. Kiev introduced martial law across ten regions of eastern and southeastern Ukraine on Monday, using the Kerch Strait incident as a pretext.
Saying he did "not want to judge" Kiev's decision to introduce martial law across part of the country, Volker said only that the process "must not hinder the democratic process within Ukraine."
Kerch 'Secondary' to Crimea
According to Volker, the Kerch Strait incident was "secondary" to what he said was Russia's "annexation" of Crimea, "which is recognized neither by us nor by the Europeans."
On Thursday, a diplomatic source in Brussels told Sputnik that France, Germany and several other EU members rejected calls to toughen sanctions against Russia over the Kerch Strait incident despite Polish eagerness to slap Russia with new restrictions at a meeting of the EU Political and Security Committee.