EU to impose sanctions on another 15 Russians and Ukrainians

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Union agreed on Monday to impose sanctions on another 15 Russian and Ukrainian figures for their role in the Ukraine crisis, diplomatic sources said.

The 15 will be subject to the same visa ban and asset freezes already imposed on more than 50 others as Moscow shows no sign of reversing course in Ukraine, the sources said.

The new names will be listed in the EU's official journal, likely on Tuesday.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the 28 member states' ambassadors to the EU to consider the bloc's next step on the crisis.

The measures fall short of the full-scale economic sanctions pressed by Washington which announced separately on Monday that it was taking action against another seven Russian officials and 17 firms linked to President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

This was to punish "provocative acts" in Ukraine, where pro-Kremlin gunmen continue to seize government buildings, the White House said, adding that it was also tightening up licencing requirements for certain hi-tech exports to Russia that could have a military use.

The EU has balked at moving to a "Phase 3" of tougher sanctions, given the extensive economic ties between many member states and Russia, but leaders have agreed to preparatory work on them.

"If there is additional escalation then there is the possibility to pass to Phase 3.... Currently... we think additional (Phase 2 measures) are appropriate," the European Commission said earlier on Monday.