Ahead of the crucial emergency talks, the European Union has imposed sanctions on 18 top Ukrainian officials of previous regime, including the ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.
The decision to freeze the assets of the Ukrainian officials was taken by the EU diplomats on Wednesday, but it came into effect since Thursday morning.
The 18 officials who have been slapped with the asset freezes, include Yanukovych’s close aides and also his son. Former justice minister, former interior minister, ex-prime minister Mykola Azarov and his son too, have been targeted.
The sanction is based on an investigation into misuse of state funds by the new Ukrainian government.
The asset freezes mean, Yanukovych and his aides would be unable to avail assets, cash or shares deposited with the EU.
EU companies would also be banned from carrying out transactions with individuals named in the sanctions list. The sanctions do not include a ban on visas, the Financial Times reported.
Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk claimed in Parliament that Ukraine’s coffers had been badly misused during Yanukovych’s tenure.
The PM reported the embezzlement of $20bn of the country’s gold reserves adding that $70bn was moved offshore from Ukrainian financial institutions, reported the FT.
The EU sanctions come as the new leaders in Kiev probed the misappropriation of state funds in Yanukovych’s terms.
The decision by t he EU comes ahead of the emergency talks that the 28-nation bloc will hold in Brussels today to discuss the response to Russia’s moves in Ukraine.
The US has earlier claimed that Russia has the full operational control of Crimea, a Black Sea Peninsula in Ukraine. However, Russia denied the troops in Crimea were Russian, saying they are pro-Moscow self defence forces.
Meanwhile, a UN envoy to Crimea, Robert Serry had to leave the pro-Moscow region as he was heckled by the pro-Russia supporters.
He was also threatened with gunmen in Simferopol.