(AFP) – President Barack Obama said Monday the United States was poised to unveil fresh sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, as pro-Kremlin gunmen seized another town in the east.
Speaking in the Philippines, Obama said the sanctions would include export restrictions on high-tech goods in a bid to ratchet up pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, blamed for the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.
Separately, top EU officials were to meet in Brussels to step up European sanctions on Russia as part of a coordinated global effort against Moscow.
On the ground in eastern Ukraine, tensions remained at fever pitch as gunmen stormed the town hall and police offices in Kostyantynivka, the latest in a string of assaults by insurgents on towns in the region.
Rebels also refused to release a group of international monitors from the OSCE after presenting them to the media as “prisoners of war” in what Germany said was a “repugnant” display.
Meanwhile, the threat of a full-scale invasion loomed large over the ex-Soviet country, with tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the border and Ukraine’s prime minister warning of efforts to start a “third world war”.