The European Union reached agreement on Tuesday on the bloc's first broad economic sanctions on Russia over its role in Ukraine, diplomats said, marking a new phase in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.
The measures will shut state-owned Russian banks out of European capital markets and target the defence sector and sensitive technologies, including oil, but exclude the vital gas sector, on which Europe is heavily dependent.
In contrast to the United States, the 28-nation EU, with bigger economic interests at stake, hesitated for months to take decisive action against Moscow.
But the mood changed radically after the downing of a civilian flight in an area of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists earlier this month, killing all 298 people on board, including 194 Dutch citizens.
Washington believes flight MH17 was shot down in error by the separatists with a missile supplied by Russia. Moscow has denied any involvement and sought to deflect the blame to Kiev.
Copyright, Reuters, 2014.