Obama announces sanctions on Russia as Ukraine tensions mount

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(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”.

 

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