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The EU must step up sanctions targeting individual Russians and be ready to impose economic sanctions on Russia immediately, MEPs said in a vote on Thursday. They also called for EU measures against Russian firms and their subsidiaries, especially in the energy sector, and Russia's EU assets, against a background of violence designed to destabilise the east and south of Ukraine.

Parliament is gravely concerned about the fast-deteriorating situation and bloodshed in the east and south of Ukraine. It urges Russia immediately to stop supporting violent separatists and armed militias, led by Russian special forces, as well as to remove its troops from the eastern border of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian authorities have every right to use all necessary measures, including the right to self-defence under the UN Charter, say MEPs, warning Russia against using the Ukraine's legitimate right to defend its territorial integrity as a pretext to launch a full-scale military invasion.

Geneva talks

MEPs hope that the imminent four-party meeting of the EU, the US, Ukraine and Russia in Geneva could pave the way for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. They underline, however, that Ukraine’s future choices can be made only by the Ukrainian people themselves, through a democratic, inclusive and transparent process. Parliament welcomes, in principle, the idea of holding a nationwide referendum on future status and territorial set-up as suggested by Acting President Turchynov.

OSCE mission and Presidential elections

Parliament calls on the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission gathering information on atypical paramilitary activity, provocative actions and human rights situation in Ukraine to be expanded.

MEPs stress that no attacks, intimidations or discriminations of Russian or ethnic Russian citizens or other minorities have been recently reported in Ukraine.

The text also calls for in-depth missions by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the European Union and the European Parliament to observe Ukraine’s 25 May Presidential elections and rejects any external pressure to delay them.

Finally, Parliament welcomes the Ukrainian government’s intention to hold early parliamentary elections.

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution