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US, Europe slap Russia with toughest sanctions yet

Update: July, 30/2014 - 10:38

WASHINGTON — The United States and Europe have targeted Russia's key financial, arms and energy sectors with tough new sanctions on Moscow.

Announcing the measures, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday denied that the West had begun a new Cold War against Russia, but urged his counterpart Vladimir Putin to reverse course.

He warned the new sanctions would hurt a Russian economy already stumbling towards zero growth.

And, he said, the allies are now more determined to act together in the wake of the shooting down over Ukraine this month of a Malaysia Airlines.

"Today, in building on the measures we announced two weeks ago, the United States is imposing new sanctions in key sectors of the Russian economy – energy, arms and finance," Obama said.

Sanctions will also target Russia's state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation, which builds attack submarines and surface warships, some of them for export to Moscow's overseas military partners.

Europe's sanctions will notably make it tougher for Russian state-owned banks to access European financial markets, forcing their costs higher and hobbling an already struggling economy.

Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, dubbed the measures "a strong warning" and condemned Russia's "illegal annexation" of Crimea and deliberate destabilization of Ukraine.

For months since the crisis erupted in November, the EU has restricted its response to so-called 'Phase 2' asset freezes and visa bans on those implicated in or profiting from the Ukraine crisis.

Moscow has consistently derided the US and EU sanctions, condemning them as ineffective and counterproductive to shared interests in such key areas as the fight against terrorism.

"We will overcome any difficulties that develop in various sectors of the economy and maybe we will become more independent and confident," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.

British energy giant BP, which owns almost 20 per cent of Russian state oil giant Rosneft, complained that the new sanctions could seriously damage its interests. —AFP


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