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U.S., EU impose new Russia sanctions

Among the targets of the new sanctions is Igor Sechin, the president of state oil company Rosneft, who has worked for Putin since the early 1990s

Published: Updated:

The United States and European Union agreed Monday to impose new sanctions on Russian officials, in a fresh bid to pressure Moscow over its role in the Ukraine crisis.

The U.S. sanctions targeted seven Russian government officials, as well as 17 firms with links to President Vladimir Putin's close associates, The Associated Press reported.

President Barack Obama had announced the sanctions while traveling in the Philippines, the last stop on a weeklong trip to Asia.

He said that while his goal was not to target Putin personally, he was seeking to "change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he's engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul,” AP reported.

The new penalties were a response to what U.S. officials say is Moscow’s failure to live up to commitments it agreed to under an international accord aimed at ending the dispute.

AP said that among the targets of the new sanctions is Igor Sechin, the president of state oil company Rosneft, who has worked for Putin since the early 1990s.

Sechin was seen as the mastermind behind the 2003 legal assault on private oil company Yukos and its founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who at the time was Russia's richest man.

The most lucrative parts of Yukos were taken over by Rosneft, making it Russia's largest company. Rosneft has a major partnership deal with ExxonMobil.

In addition to the new sanctions, the U.S. is adding new restrictions on high-tech materials used by Russia's defense industry that could help bolster Moscow's military, AP said.

The White House says Russia's involvement in the recent violence in eastern Ukraine is indisputable and warned that the U.S. and its partners are prepared to impose deeper penalties if Russia's provocations continue.

The EU took similar measures.

In Brusscles, the EU agreed to impose sanctions on another 15 Russian and Ukrainian figures for their role in the Ukraine crisis, diplomatic sources said told Agence France Presse.

The 15 will be subject to the same visa ban and asset freezes imposed on more than 50 others as Moscow shows no sign of reversing course in Ukraine, the sources told AFP, while EU member states remain reluctant to take wider economic measures at this stage.

(With AP and AFP)