Washington: The United States and European Union plan to impose new sanctions against Russia this week, including penalties targeting key sectors of the Russian economy, the White House said Monday.
The show of Western solidarity comes as the US accuses Russia of ramping up its troop presence on its border with Ukraine and shipping more heavy weaponry to pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukrainian cities.
US President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain, Germany, France and Italy discussed the crisis during a rare joint video teleconference on Monday. The discussion follows days of bilateral talks on how to implement tougher sanctions after the downing of a passenger jet in eastern Ukraine, an attack the US says was carried out by the separatists.
The US and European sanctions are likely to target Russia’s energy, arms and financial sectors. The EU is also weighing the prospect of levying penalties on individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who appears to only be deepening Russia’s role in destabilizing 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, Obama’s deputy national security adviser.
Europe, which has a stronger trade relationship with Russia than the US, has lagged behind Washington with its earlier sanctions package, in part out of concern from leaders that the penalties could have a negative impact on their own economies. But a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said following Monday’s call that the West agreed that the EU should move a “strong package of sectoral sanctions as swiftly as possible.”