President Obama and European leaders agreed Monday on a new set of sanctions on Russia over destabilizing actions by separatists in Ukraine, officials said Monday.
The new sanctions, still unspecified, could target entire sectors of the Russian economy, officials said after Obama’s video conference with the leaders of Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy.
“We expect the European Union to take significant additional steps this week, including in key sectors of the Russian economy,” said Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Tony Blinken.
“In turn, and in full coordination with Europe,” Blinken added, “the United States will implement additional measures itself.”
Obama has spoken repeatedly with these leaders — Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Francois Hollande, the U.K.’s David Cameron, and Italy’s Matteo Renzi — about measures designed to end Russian support for violent separatists in Ukraine.
During Monday’s video conference — Merkel participated by phone — the leaders agreed that Russian President Vladimir Putin has not heeded western demands to withdraw support for violent separatists in eastern Ukraine.
A statement from Cameron’s office in London said the leaders “agreed that Russia has failed to take the steps necessary to de-escalate the crisis, such as ceasing support for the separatists; stopping the flow of weapons across the border; and using its influence to ensure the release of hostages.”
The U.S. and European also demanded complete and unrestricted access to the remains of the airliner shot down over eastern Ukraine earlier this month, officials said.
The U.S. and allies have slapped a series of sanctions on Russia in previous weeks. New ones could damage whole sectors of the Russian economy, as well as “cronies” of President Vladimir Putin, Blinken said.
Citing current sanctions, Blinken said “foreign investment is drying up. … Russia is heading for an economic contraction.”
Putin has criticized the sanctions, and said that his country has acted to protect the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine.
During their call, Obama and the European leaders also spoke about renewed violence between the Israelis and Palestinians, as well as in Iraq and Libya.