Europe’s new sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis have come into force along with new punitive measures by the United States.
The sanctions target five major state banks and curb EU business deals with oil and defence firms.
US sanctions will also affect a major technology and defence firm, as well as technology for Russia’s energy industry.
It comes a week after a ceasefire deal which although fragile, appears to be holding.
Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament welcomed the move.
“This is a mixed decision we keep the door open but we say clearly, if the chance is not used then the next stage of sanctions will be implemented.”
Russia says the new sanctions are aimed at disrupting the peace process but for now it has ruled out any immediate action.
“Russia will react to the EU sanctions in a calm and appropriate fashion, primarily, in view of the need to protect its own interests,” said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russia’s own sanctions are beginning to bite but Romania’s prime minister told euronews the EU must be strong and prove its point.
“I think that we should prove our commitment and we should assume the responsibility of showing that nobody can change the international law, nobody can abuse other European countries. So it’s a price which is worth paying by the European community.”
Dozens of senior Russian officials and separatist leaders are now also subject to Western asset freezes and travel bans.
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