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Ukraine

EU finalizes new sanctions against Russia

European Union ambassadors have finalized stronger sanctions on Russia because of its involvement with the war in Ukraine. The ban could be suspended if the truce between Ukraine and the rebels holds.

European Union diplomats have decided to impose stronger sanctions on Russia. The new ban, which will be approved on Monday, could, however, be suspended if the ceasefire between Ukraine and the rebels holds and if Moscow withdraws its troops.

Once the new ban comes into effect, Russian oil and defense companies will have limited access to the European financial market. Russia will have only limited access to service from European energy companies and the EU will curb the export of dual-use technology to Moscow.

The EU also plans to issue travel bans and freeze assets of 20 high-ranking Russians and separatists from eastern Ukraine.

While speaking after the end of a NATO summit in Wales earlier on Friday, US President Barack Obama justified the earlier bans, saying they were a big reason why the ceasefire between Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels had come through.

On Friday, Ukrainian representatives and pro-Russian rebel leaders agreed on to cease fire, starting 1500 GMT, despite fierce fighting in Mariupol, a port city in eastern Ukraine. Under the terms of the truce, both Ukraine and the separatists were to pull out their troops, exchange prisoners and send aid to the affected areas.

However, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen and US President Barack Obama have both expressed their skepticism regarding the ceasefire. Rasmussen said that the next important step would be to "implement it in good faith."

mg/sb (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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