Further European Union support for Ukraine, especially the south-eastern regions most affected by the conflict, will be discussed by European Union foreign ministers on February 18.

Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Kiev in 2014 and backed separatist rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk industrial regions. Most recently, in November 2018, the Russian navy captured 24 Ukrainian sailors and their vessels in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black and Azov seas. Moscow has not heeded EU calls to release them.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, the bloc’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed in Brussels on February 15 “the issue of restrictive measures as a consequence of the incidents in the Azov Sea”.

Two diplomatic sources told Reuters the EU would add the names of eight more Russians directly involved in the incident to its list of people and entities subject to EU travel bans and asset freezes for their role in the turmoil in Ukraine.