Ukraine sanctions former president Yanukovych
© WikiMedia (Mstyslav Chernov)
Ukraine sanctions former president Yanukovych

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the implementation of personal sanctions on former president Viktor Yanukovych and 26 others on Friday.

The sanctions will bar the 27 individuals from accessing assets and property within Ukraine and withdrawing money from Ukrainian bank accounts, among other penalties. Zelenskyy also called on Europe and the UK to impose sanctions. He called the move logical and said he found it strange that such sanctions had not been imposed sooner. Yanukovych fled to Russia in 2014 after a crackdown on protests by security forces resulted in the deaths of more than 100 protesters. In 2019 a Ukrainian court convicted him of treason and sentenced him to 13 years in jail.

The sanctions were approved by the National Security and Defense Council after receiving a recommendation from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). The people on the list are accused of aiding Russia’s take over of the Crimean peninsula. According to SBU Chairman Ivan Bakanov, the majority of the people on the list have become Russian citizens.

In addition to Yanukovych, the list includes former prime minister Mykola Azarov, former education minister Dmytro Tabachnyk, the “head” of Crimea Serhiy Askyonov, businessman Serhiy Kursychenko, two former defense ministers and two former state prosecutors.

Internationally, the imposition of the sanctions could be seen as a sign of Ukraine’s seriousness about joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The sanctions are a reminder of the pivot in Ukrainian foreign policy after the removal of Yanukovych. NATO membership, or at least increased military aid, would likely aid Ukraine in reclaiming Crimea and the Donbas region.