BRUSSELS – Frustrated by the apparent ineffectiveness of previous sanctions and outraged by the deaths of 298 people aboard the Malaysia Airlines plane downed over eastern Ukraine, the European Union adopted tough new economic sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, EU officials and diplomats said.
The measures, which were prepared in coordination with the United States, include an arms embargo, and a ban on the sale of dual use and sensitive technologies, such as advanced energy technology equipment relevant for deep sea and Arctic drilling. Such equipment will now be subject to prior approval by competent national authorities, an EU official said.
Under the financial sanctions, Russian state-owned banks will be banned from selling bonds or equities with a maturity of over 90 days in European capital markets, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make public statements.
The ambassadors also added eight names to the list of people subject to EU-wide asset freezes and travel bans, including four people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the EU official said. They also put three more entities on the list of companies and organizations subject to EU sanctions because of their alleged actions against Ukraine's sovereignty or territorial integrity, that official said.
Europe, which has a much bigger trade relationship with Russia than the U.S., had lagged behind Washington in its earlier punitive measures, in part out of concern from leaders that the penalties could hurt their own economies. But on Monday, in a rare videoconference call with President Barack Obama, the leaders of Britain, Germany, Italy and France expressed their willingness to adopt new sanctions against Russia in coordination with the U.S., an official French statement said.
Until now, the trade bloc has only targeted specific individuals, businesses or rebel groups.
"We welcome these early indications that European countries are going to take additional steps today," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday, adding that the U.S. expects those penalties will "track pretty closely" with previous sector sanctions announced by the Obama administration.
Earnest said further U.S. penalties would be announced "as soon as today."
The Western nations are demanding Russia halt the alleged supply of arms to Ukrainian separatists and other actions that destabilize the situation in eastern Ukraine.
The EU measures were decided at a meeting of ambassadors from the bloc's 28 member countries. They will be codified in legal language and published Thursday, when they will take immediate effect. The new names to be added to the travel ban and assets freeze list should be known Wednesday.
"The approach will be under constant review and can be adjusted in light of new developments. Normally sanctions are in place for one year," the EU official said.