I propose to take Questions Nos. 49 and 50 together.
While I have not had recent discussions with the Ukrainian or the Russian Ambassador, my officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been in regular communication with them. As regards the action being taken by the EU, I believe that throughout this crisis the Union’s messages have been strong and they have been consistent and clear. All Member States have been, and are, united in their views that what has happened in Ukraine is completely unacceptable and that it will have consequences for our relations with Russia. From the outset, the EU has played an active role in trying to facilitate a resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. In addition to its scheduled meetings, the Foreign Affairs Council has met twice in extraordinary session to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the Heads of State and Government also have discussed Ukraine in extraordinary session as well as during the regular meetings of the European Council.
The Heads of State and Government on 6 March set out a three-phase roadmap in relation to targeted measures against the Russian Federation in the absence of steps to de-escalate the situation. They also endorsed the decision of Foreign Ministers to suspend talks with Russia on visa matters and on a New Agreement, both stated priorities of the Russian Government. Following the holding of the referendum in Crimea, the Foreign Affairs Council implemented the second phase of measures involving the imposition of travel restrictions and an asset freeze against 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
On Monday of this week, I participated in the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, where there was a detailed discussion of the crisis in Ukraine. Ministers decided to expand the list of those to whom visa bans and asset freezes will apply. Preparatory work continues on so-called Phase Three measures so that further steps can be taken should they be required. Ministers also agreed to send an expert mission to Ukraine to prepare possible EU assistance in support of police and rule-of-law.
The Foreign Affairs Council also adopted a Decision on macro-financial assistance for Ukraine, which brings the total amount of funding being made available by the EU to €1.6 billion. The support is part of a broader package of international support put together by the IMF and conditioned on Ukraine's implementation of wide-ranging reforms
The EU will also continue its engagement in international facilitation initiatives involving the UN, the OSCE and others. Ireland is participating fully in these efforts: we sent one officer to the initial interim and another to the subsequent Polish-led second interim OSCE missions. One Irish person has been seconded to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission agreed upon on 21 March and others are available should the mission be expanded as planned.
The Foreign Affairs Council on Monday expressed strong support for the holding of free and fair presidential elections on 25 May. Ireland is sending a team of observers to Ukraine to help achieve that objective, one which will allow the Ukrainian people to determine their own future and help build trust across the country. It is in the interest of the entire region that a sovereign, prosperous, stable, democratic and inclusive Ukraine emerges from the current crisis.