US, EU impose sanctions on more Russian officials, firms

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The U.S. and Europe have imposed sanctions on more than 60 Russian and Ukrainian individuals—many of them Russian executives and close Putin associates—along with a bank and a gas company.
The US and EU first imposed visa bans and asset freezes on a number of senior Russian officials and companies after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine last month.
The White House said the move was a response to "Russia\’s continued illegal intervention in Ukraine".
Those targeted include Igor Sechin, head of oil giant Rosneft, and Sergei Chemezov of the hi-tech firm Rostec.
Most of the 17 companies targeted are linked to Arkady and Boris Rotenberg and Gennady Timchenko – individuals targeted in the previous sanctions list.
The latest measures also targets some hi-tech exports that "could contribute to Russia\’s military capabilities".
The European Union added 15 more officials to its Russian sanctions list to protest Moscow’s meddling in Ukraine, diplomats said.
Ambassadors of the EU’s 28 nations agreed at a meeting in Brussels to broaden the bloc’s travel ban and asset freeze sanctions, three diplomats separately confirmed.
Two diplomats also said the ambassadors will meet again on Wednesday and could add more names.
Monday’s decision still requires official approval from the EU’s governments but officials said that is merely a formality and is expected within the coming hours.
The names of the individuals targeted weren’t immediately released but would be included in the official publication of the move in the bloc’s legal journal early on Tuesday.
The announcement comes after the mayor of Kharkiv, a city in eastern Ukraine, was shot and critically wounded.
Hennadiy Kernes was recovering after an operation to repair damage to the chest and abdomen, but his life remained in danger, his office said.
Kernes used to be a supporter of former pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych. He then dropped his support for Mr Yanukovych in favour of a united Ukraine.
Monday also saw pro-Russian separatists seize a local government building in Kostyantynivka, a town in the eastern Donetsk region.
In Donetsk itself, pro-Russian activists armed with clubs and chains attacked a pro-unity rally, correspondents and eyewitnesses said. A number of people were injured in the clash.
Western countries accuse Russia of actively supporting the activists in Eastern Ukraine – a claim denied by Moscow.
Separatists were also continuing to detain about 40 people in the town of Sloviansk, including journalists, pro-Kiev activists and seven military observers linked to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as well as three members of Ukraine\’s security service, officials in Kiev said.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov expressed "disgust" at the new U.S. sanctions. He told Russian media they are based on "completely distorted" ideas of what is happening in Ukraine. Rybakov said Russia\’s response will be felt "painfully" in Washington.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday the goal of the sanctions is not to go after  Putin personally, but to encourage him to "walk the walk and not just talk the talk" to resolve the crisis in Ukraine with diplomacy. 
Obama said Ukraine has abided by an international agreement reached in Geneva earlier this month to end the crisis, but that Russia has not. The president said if Russia shows further aggression against Ukraine, the United States could place broader sanctions against sectors such as banking or the defense industry.
The head of Russia\’s Rosneft oil company, Igor Sechin, promised that the sanctions imposed on him will not affect Rosneft\’s cooperation with shareholders and partners, including American interests.
The oil giant announced earlier Monday that it has approved joint projects with U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil to develop hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic. Rosneft also has close ties to Britain\’s BP, which owns about 20 percent of the company.
BP says it remains committed to its investment in Rosneft.
Source: Agencies

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