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EU to 'ban investment in Crimea'

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The European Union is to ban all investment in Crimea, annexed by Russia in March, to keep up the pressure on Moscow and show that the issue is not being forgotten, EU diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

[BRUSSELS] The European Union is to ban all investment in Crimea, annexed by Russia in March, to keep up the pressure on Moscow and show that the issue is not being forgotten, EU diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

The export of EU-made goods for the transport, telecom, energy and oil and gas exploration sectors in Crimea will also be halted, the sources said.

In addition, tourism services will be banned and cruise ships will be barred from calling at Crimean ports, they said.

The EU's 28 member states are expected to formally endorse the measures on Thursday when EU leaders meet in Brussels for a regular summit meeting.

The latest sanctions reflect "the continued policy of not recognising the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia," one of the diplomatic sources said.

"We have not forgotten the Crimea problem even if the focus has been on the fighting in the east of Ukraine," the source said.

"We remain extremely concerned by the situation in Crimea." As the Ukraine crisis has deepened, the EU has imposed asset freezes and visa bans on Russian and Ukrainian figures held responsible, including those implicated in Crimea's annexation.

The July shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine, blamed on pro-Moscow rebels using a Russian-made missile, stung Brussels to extend the sanctions to include key economic sectors such as finance, energy and defence.

Some EU states, notably Germany and Italy, were reluctant to take that step and diplomats say there is now little appetite to do much more amid calls for the EU to review overall ties with Russia.

Against this backdrop, there are growing concerns that Crimea, which Russian President Vladimir Putin considers "sacred territory" never to be surrendered, could slip down the agenda to become a fait accompli the West will not challenge.

AFP