Stopping Putin: West agrees wider Russia sanctions


U.S. and European leaders agreed on Monday to impose wider sanctions on Russia’s financial, defense and energy sectors, reuters.com reports.

The new sanctions, which U.S. President Barack Obama and leaders of Germany, Britain, France and Italy discussed in a conference call, are aimed at increasing the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin after the Malaysian airliner was shot down over territory held by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine.

‘It’s precisely because we’ve not yet seen a strategic turn from Putin that we believe it’s absolutely essential to take additional measures and that’s what the Europeans and the United States intend to do this week,’ said Tony Blinken, a national security adviser to Obama.

The crash earlier this month has led to calls for much tougher action against Russia from Western countries who had previously imposed sanctions but only on small numbers of individuals and firms. EU member states were expected to try to reach a final deal on Tuesday on stronger measures that would include closing the bloc’s capital markets to Russian state banks, an embargo on future arms sales and restrictions on energy technology and technology that could be used for defense.

In Brussels, EU sources said diplomats had reached preliminary agreement on a new list of companies and people, including associates of Putin, to be targeted by asset freezes.

Western states believe that the rebels brought down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, with the loss of 298 lives, using a missile supplied by Russia.

‘The latest information from the region suggests that even since MH17 was shot down, Russia continues to transfer weapons across the border and to provide practical support to the separatists,’ said a statement issued by British Prime Minister David Cameron after the leaders’ call.

‘Leaders agreed that the international community should therefore impose further costs on Russia and specifically that ambassadors from across the EU should agree a strong package of sectoral sanctions as swiftly as possible.’

Russia has blamed the Ukrainian military for the tragedy, which deepened a crisis that erupted when a pro-Moscow Ukrainian president was forced from power and Russia annexed Crimea in March.

Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said sanctions imposed by the United States and the EU on officials and companies would not achieve their goal.

‘We will overcome any difficulties that may arise in certain areas of the economy, and maybe we will become more independent and more confident in our own strength,’ he told a news conference.

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