Putin and friends targeted in fresh EU sanctions
RUSSIA could be cut off for finance worth billions a year for state-owned banks and financial institutions as the European Union drafts tough new sanctions.
The EU is stepping up sanctions after Russia failed to stop the "flow of weapons, equipment and militants across the border" into Ukraine after the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight last week with the loss of 298 lives.
The West has escalated measures amid allegations that Russia was increasing arms supplies to separatists.
The US ambassador to Kiev warned that the Russian President was "pouring gasoline on the fire" of the Ukraine crisis.
Last night the US ambassador to Nato, Douglas Lute, warned that 15,000 Russian troops had once again amassed along the border with Ukraine.
His comments followed earlier accusations from Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, who said tanks and heavy rocket launchers had crossed the border from Russia even as international crash investigators had called for a truce to recover the victims and wreckage from MH17. "What happened to MH17 is not a mystery. We know that the aircraft was brought down by an SA11 missile fired from separatist territory," he said. "What we have seen from the Kremlin is pouring gasoline on the fire."
Next week the EU will widen asset freezes and bans to Russian oligarchs and "cronies" of Mr Putin before moving on to threaten economic sanctions.
The names of the Russian oligarchs to be targeted as "the cronies of Mr Putin and his clique in the Kremlin" will be published next week following EU legal procedures and negotiations over blacklists submitted by national governments that will begin on Monday.
EU ambassadors are continuing talks on wider sanctions against Russia after asking the European Commission to draw up legislation to cut off Russian access to capital markets, arms and specialised technology. (© Daily Telegraph, London)