BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union foreign ministers slapped travel bans and asset freezes Monday on 21 people from Russia and Crimea who they linked to the push for the secession of Ukraine's strategic Black Sea peninsula.
The sanctions came hours after Crimea's parliament declared the region an independent state, following its residents' overwhelming vote Sunday to break away from Ukraine and seek to join Russia.
The ministers meeting in Brussels did not immediately release the names of those targeted by the sanctions.
Two diplomats said the sanctions targeted 13 Russians and eight people from Crimea. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the breakdown of the nationalities had not been officially announced.
The 28-nation EU and the United States say Sunday's Crimean referendum was illegitimate and unconstitutional.
President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday that the vote "would never be recognized" by the United States, as he and other top U.S. officials warned Moscow against making further military moves toward southern and eastern Ukraine.
The EU is walking a tightrope between punishing Moscow and keeping open lines of communication with Russia for a diplomatic resolution of one of the worst geopolitical crises in years on its eastern doorstep.
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