US President Obama has decided to increase sanctions against Russia by targeting large banks that support large energy and defense firms. Instead of targeting individuals connected with Russian support of operations in Ukraine and Putin’s inner circle, this new move is far more sweeping. According to White House statements, it will not cut off entire sectors of the Russian economy from international commerce, the new measures restrict access to American debt markets for Russian energy firms and their financial backers.
Some of the targets were Rosneft, the state-owned oil company and largest oil producer, and Gazprombank, the financial wing of gas giant Gazprom and additionally its natural gas producer Novatek. These sanctions were coordinated with European leaders, who met in Brussels yesterday to discuss their own package of penalties against Russia. European leaders decided to forego punitive measures and focus on how to block loans for new investments in Russia by European businesses.
The decisions were made in the wake of American intelligence reports that Russia had not cut off the flow of foreign militia fighters and weapons across the border to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, who are currently holed up in the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.
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