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EU toughens sanctions against Russia amid Ukraine unrest

  • 2014-07-17
  • From wire reports, RIGA

European Union leaders agreed to tighten sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis on Wednesday, including a move to punish Russian firms linked to actions undermining Kiev, the AFP news agency reports.

The measures, announced moments after Washington beefed up its own sanctions, will target "individuals or entities who actively provide material or financial support to the Russians decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or destabilization of eastern Ukraine," a statement said.

The 28 leaders, meeting at a summit to discuss the crisis and fill top EU jobs, also agreed to suspend new investments in Russia by the EU's European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The tougher measures broaden the scope to Russian companies closely connected to the Kremlin, a move that many member states with strong economic ties to Russia had resisted.

Up to now, the EU had targeted 72 Russian and Ukrainian figures with visa bans and asset freezes, under what are known as "Phase 2" measures, without targeting bigger entities.

The EU has been divided over whether to adopt the hard line advocated by the United States, with some member states, such as Italy and Germany, wary of putting major economic ties with Moscow in jeopardy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier Moscow had failed to meet EU demands that it reverse course in Ukraine and cut supplies and support for pro-Kremlin rebels there.

The new targeted entities will be listed by end-July, the statement said.