Targeting key energy and weapons manufacturing companies, the European Union has implemented a third round of sanctions against Moscow. The EU sanctions come in response to Russia's alleged role in the Ukraine conflict.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko welcomed the new sanctions on Friday, saying they underlined European solidarity with his country. He also vowed that the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in March, would become part of Ukraine again.
"Crimea will be back together with us, not necessarily … by military means," Poroshenko said in Kyiv.
The European Union's fresh round of sanctions on Russia are aimed at cutting off the flow of cash from European financial markets to top weapons and energy companies. This would affect the financial transactions of energy giants Gazprom, Rosneft and Transneft, along with defense companies Opk Oboronprom, United Aircraft Corporation and Uralvagonzavod.
Officials in the eastern Ukraine cities of Donetsk, Lugansk as well as the Crimean Peninsula were also targeted. In line with the sanctions, assets were to be frozen and travel bans imposed on dozens of Russian individuals and pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. The EU and the United States have accused Russia of providing separatists in Ukraine with arms and manpower, thus fueling the armed conflict.
The latest round of sanctions was approved on Thursday and became effective on Friday after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. The sanctions could be reconsidered pending a review of the peace process at the end of the month.
"If the situation on the ground so warrants," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said, "proposals to amend, suspend or repeal the set of sanctions in force, in all or in part" would be considered.
US President Barack Obama also said on Thursday that Washington would intensify punitive measures against Moscow over its "illegal actions" in its neighboring Ukraine.
Kyiv and NATO have accused Moscow of deploying 1,000 soldiers to eastern Ukraine to support pro-Russia rebels.
The armed conflict between Ukrainian and separatist forces has been raging since mid-April and has claimed over 3,000 lives, according to United Nations estimates.
The Russian foreign ministry said on Friday that the new round of sanctions showed that the European Union had "made its choice against" the current peace road map aimed at resolving the worst confrontation between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.
sb/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters)