US Steps Up Sanctions On Russia Over Ukraine
WASHINGTON, Sept 12 (Reuters) - The United States hit Russia's largest bank, a major arms maker and arctic, deepwater and shale exploration by its biggest oil companies with new sanctions on Friday to punish Moscow for its intervention in Ukraine.
The sanctions, coordinated with similar European Union steps, were triggered by what the West sees as Moscow's recent effort to destabilize eastern Ukraine by backing pro-Russian separatists with troops, heavy arms and cross-border shelling. . They are the latest economic penalties imposed by the West since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March.
The sanctions target companies including Sberbank, Russia's largest bank by assets, and Rostec, a conglomerate that makes everything from Kalashnikovs to cars, by limiting their ability to access the U.S. debt markets.
They also bar U.S. companies from selling goods or services to five Russian energy companies to conduct deepwater, Arctic offshore and shale projects. The Russian firms affected are Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftegas and Rosneft.
The United States stressed that the sanctions could be removed if Russia, which denies sending troops into eastern Ukraine and arming the separatists, took a series of steps including the withdrawal of all of its forces from its neighbor.
However, a defiant Russian President Vladimir Putin called the new economic penalties "strange," given his backing of peace efforts in eastern Ukraine, and Russia's Foreign Ministry said it would respond quickly with retaliatory measures against what it criticized as another "hostile step."
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