Russia has once again met sanctions from Western leaders, on Monday U.S. and Europe agreed on wider sanctions on Russia’s financial, defense and energy sectors. The new sanctions are aimed at increasing the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin after the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed on the territory held by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The Ukraine crisis was discussed in a five-way telephone call between David Cameron, President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
The downing of MH17, in which 298 people were killed, could be the tipping point for the EU. Its leaders had previously shown reluctance to impose wider sanctions on Russia in light of the extensive economic cooperation between the Europe and Moscow.
“The latest information from the region suggests that even since MH17 was shot down, Russia continues to transfer weapons across the border and to provide practical support to the separatists,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron in a statement.
A spokesperson said: “The leaders agreed the international community should therefore impose further costs on Russia and specifically that ambassadors from across the EU should agree a strong package of sectoral sanctions as swiftly as possible.
“They agreed the EU and United States should continue to work together to exert pressure on Russia to change course and to engage in a political resolution to the crisis before more innocent lives are lost.”
Britain admitted the measures would inflict “pain” on the City of London, but said they should be seen in the context of the deaths of nearly 300 passengers on the MH17 flight.
EU member states were expected to try to reach a final deal on Tuesday on stronger measures that would include closing the bloc’s capital markets to Russian state banks, an embargo on future arms sales and restrictions on energy technology and technology that could be used for defense.
As a response to EU plans to ban the sale of weapons and technology over Ukraine, President of Russia Vladimir Putin urged country’s defense industry decrease the level of imports. Putin said that Russia’s arms industry is “definitely” capable of producing everything the country needs at a meeting on how to combat the sanctions at his residence outside Moscow.
“Our task is to protect ourselves against the risks of contracts being reneged upon by our foreign partners, including risks of a political nature,” the president added.
The sanctions in the energy sector will focus on sales of equipment for deep-sea drilling and shale gas. The EU will steer clear of wider action on gas imports, as many members of the bloc are heavily reliant on Russian supplies. Sanctions have already been imposed on dozens of individuals and some companies with close ties to the Kremlin, in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said sanctions imposed by the United States and the EU on officials and companies would not achieve their goal.
“We will overcome any difficulties that may arise in certain areas of the economy, and maybe we will become more independent and more confident in our own strength,” he told a news conference.