BRUSSELS (AP) — Shocked into action by the downing of the Malaysian airliner and the resulting deaths of more than 200 Europeans, the European Union approved dramatically tougher economic sanctions Tuesday against Russia, to be followed swiftly by similar punitive measures from the U.S.
The new sanctions adopted by the Europeans over the uprising in Ukraine include an arms embargo on Moscow and a ban on the unapproved sale to the Russians of technology that has dual military and civilian uses or is sensitive, such as advanced equipment used in deep-sea and Arctic oil drilling, EU officials said.
To restrict Russia's access to Europe's capital markets, EU citizens and banks will be barred from purchasing certain bonds or stocks issued by state-owned Russian banks, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make public statements.
European Union President Herman Van Rompuy and the head of the EU's executive, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, said the 28-nation bloc meant to send a "strong warning" to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the "illegal annexation" of Crimea and Russia's destabilization of Ukraine cannot be tolerated.
"Furthermore, when the violence created spirals out of control and leads to the killing of almost 300 innocent civilians in their flight from the Netherlands to Malaysia, the situation requires urgent and determined response," the two top EU officials said in a statement.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was blown out of the sky by a missile over eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 people aboard, most of them Europeans. The Obama administration has blamed separatists armed and supported by Russia.
The new EU sanctions bring Europe in sync with the U.S., which has been pressing the bloc to take a harder line against Moscow.
Europe, which has a much larger trade relationship with Russia than the U.S. does, had hesitated to take actions as strong as Washington's for fear among some leaders that sanctions could boomerang against their own economies.
Germany, for example, imports one-third of its gas from Russia, while France has a contract to deliver two warships.
But on Monday, in a rare videoconference call with President Barack Obama, the leaders of Britain, Germany, Italy and France expressed their willingness to slap new sanctions on Russia in coordination with the U.S.
Up to now, the EU had only targeted specific individuals, businesses or rebel organizations accused of undermining Ukraine.
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