US, EU crank up pressure on Russia; more sanctions on way over Ukraine crisis

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Seeking to ratchet up pressure on Russia in wake of Ukraine crisis, the US and European Union diplomats are set to impose more sanctions against Moscow.

Speaking in Philippines, which is the last leg of his Asia trip, US President Barack Obama confirmed that new sanctions would be imposed on Russia whic would target individuals, companies and tech exports to Moscow.

He added that the measures were being taken as a part of the “calibrated efforts” to push Russia to stabilise Ukraine tension.

Obama said that the sanctions against Russia were being imposed keeping in mind its inability to implement Geneva deal and were not meant to target Russian President Vladimir Putin “personally”.

“The goal is 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,” Obama said.

The US and the EU have already slapped a set of sanctions including asset freezes and visa bans on dozens of Russian officials including those in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

However as pro-Russian activists continue aggression in a dozen of eastern Ukrainian towns, more sanctions are being mulled on additional Russian officials.

The talks of sanctions come after a deal struck in Geneva by Ukraine, EU, US and Russia failed to be implemented as separatists didn’t leave occupied buildings in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, reports said that the mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Gennady Kernes, was critical after he had been shot at.

> Also the separatists targeted another town Kostyantynivka, where they seized a local government building.

The activists have also held military observers working under the aegis of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Out of eight OSCE diplomats held in eastern town of Sloviansk, one was yesterday freed after the OSCE negotiators succeeded in getting him released from the masked activists as he was suffering from a medical condition.

However, seven military observers remain captivated as “prisoners of wars”, whom the activists also paraded in front of TV cameras yesterday.

The public parading of the diplomats, out of which four are Germans, was condemned by Germany as “revolting”.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued a statement that read, “The public parading of the OSCE observers and Ukrainian security forces as prisoners is revolting and blatantly hurts the dignity of the victims”.