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Senior U.S. officials announced Wednesday that the Obama administration is increasing the sanctions on Russia to punish Moscow for not meeting its commitments to de-escalate the crisis in eastern Ukraine. The news came on the same day that European Union leaders met in Brussels, where they also addressed the topic of new sanctions on Russia.
The sanctions affect firms across the energy and financial sectors — limiting two major banks and energy firms from getting financing from U.S. capital markets. Officials said this move will, in effect, close their access to markets for medium and long term investments.
In a briefing Wednesday afternoon, President Obama said that while the sanctions are significant, they are also targeted to limit spillover effects on the economy of the United States and its allies. "What we are expecting is that the Russian leadership will see once again that their actions in Ukraine have consequences,” Obama said.
The sanctions also include senior Russian officials, including the deputy head of the Russian parliament, and a Ukrainian separatist leader, among others. A State Department official said the flow of heavy weapons from Russia to eastern Ukraine has increased in the past month.