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Obama expands Russia sanctions to cover banks, energy companies and more

The Obama administration followed through on past promises to escalate sanctions against Russia over the country’s continued involvement in the political turmoil in Ukraine.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced a fresh set of sanctions Wednesday aimed at Russia’s financial, energy and defense industries on top of an earlier round that targeted specific Russian citizens with U.S. travel bans and frozen assets. The latest penalties go after two major Russian energy outfits, Novatek and Rosneft, as well as two leading Moscow financial institutions, Gazprombank and VEB. Officials are limiting those companies’ access to the U.S. capital markets while also targeting eight Russian arms firms as well as several other individuals and companies connected to the separatist uprising in Ukraine.

“Because Russia has failed to meet the basic standards of international conduct, we are acting today to open Russia’s financial services and energy sectors to sanctions and limit the access of two key Russian banks and two key energy firms to U.S. sources of financing, and to impose blocking sanctions against eight arms firms and a set of senior Russian officials,” David Cohen, the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a statement. ”

Meanwhile, European Union leaders are also meeting to discuss their own potential punishments for Russia. Bloomberg reports that the EU’s response could include cutting off Russia’s access to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as well as the European Investment Bank.