EU, US Impose Sanctions on Russia
The EU and the US have imposed travel bans and asset freezes against a number of Russian and Ukrainian officials.
The sanctions are targeting figures that are seen as having a key role in the March 16 referendum in which Crimea's population has voted in favour of seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.
EU's measures, which were agreed after a meeting of European Foreign Minister in Brussels, are against 21 officials.
The BBC, citing Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, reports that they are to be followed by further sanctions expected to be approved in the next few days. More than 100 people were originally discussed as potential targets of sanctions by the EU, and it is unclear whether the list will be expanded.
Contrary to information leaked last week, it does not presently include Gazprom officials.
According to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, EU's actions against Russia must leave "ways and possibilities open to prevent a further escalation that could lead to the division of Europe", as the ABC quoted him as saying ahead of the Brussels summit.
Washington's restrictions will be implemented against seven top Russian government officials and MPs and four separatist leaders in Crimea.
Acting leader of Crimea, Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov, as well as Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of Russian Parliament's upper house, are among the blacklisted. In a statement, the White House has announced that the sanctions "send a strong message to the Russian government that there are consequences for their actions that violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including their actions supporting the illegal referendum for Crimean separation."
Short after Western measures were announced, Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Termigaliyev announced that they will not affect the peninsular region's drive to join Russia.
Earlier, Moscow announced it would accept negotiations with Ukraine over the crisis, but only if a contact group dealing with talks can agree on some changes in Ukraine, such as a new federal constitution, raising Russian to the status of an official language in the country, and respecting Crimean population's free will to join Russia that was expressed through a local referendum on Sunday.
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