EU governments agree to impose economic sanctions on Russia

Vice president of the European Commission (EC) and high representative of the European Union (EU) for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton (rght), speaks during a press conference with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del
Vice president of the European Commission (EC) and high representative of the European Union (EU) for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton (rght), speaks during a press conference with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario (back, left) in Manila on July 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (REUTERS, AFP) - European Union governments reached a deal on Tuesday to impose economic sanctions against Russia, targeting its oil industry, defence, dual-use goods and sensitive technologies, diplomats said.

The sanctions will be reviewed after three months, one diplomat said.

The new measures impose restrictions on the finance, defence and energy sectors so as to increase the cost to Russia of its continued intervention and support of pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine.

“A political accord has been reached on the package of economic sanctions,” an EU official said, after the 28 member state ambassadors met for most of the day.

Up to now, the European Union has imposed asset freezes and visa bans targeted at people and entities – firms, utilities or local authorities – it believes to have stoked the Ukraine crisis or profited from it.

Many EU countries, among them Germany and Italy, have major economic ties with Russia, which also supplies the bloc with a third of its gas needs, making it difficult for Brussels to follow Washington’s lead and adopt more punishing sanctions on Moscow.

However, the alleged shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by pro-Moscow rebels using a Russian-made missile changed sentiment radically and pushed the idea of broader and tougher economic sanctions to the top of the EU agenda.