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White House to impose new Russia sanctions

President Barack Obama said today he’ll unveil new sanctions against Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors, despite a ceasefire, saying the U.S. has “yet to see conclusive evidence that Russia has ceased its efforts to destabilize Ukraine.”

The measures -- made in coordination with the European Union -- could be rolled back if Russian President Vladimir Putin pulls out of Ukraine, Obama said.

The new sanctions are a result of Russia’s actions to destabilize Ukraine over the last month, including the presence of heavily armed Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, Obama said. Russia and Ukraine reached a ceasefire at talks in Minsk, but the leaders want to see more cooperation from Russia, Obama said.

“The international community continues to seek a genuine negotiated solution to the crisis in Ukraine,” Obama said. “I encourage President Putin to work with Ukraine and other international partners, within the context of the Minsk agreement and without setting unreasonable conditions, to reach a lasting resolution to the conflict.”

Obam said the sanctions could be rolled back “if Russia fully implements its commitments.” But, he added, “if, instead, Russia continues its aggressive actions and violations of international law, the costs will continue to rise.”

Obama said the U.S. action will “deepen and broaden sanctions” against Russia’s financial, energy, and defense sectors and will be detailed on Friday.

He said the moves will “will increase Russia’s political isolation as well as the economic costs to Russia, especially in areas of importance to President Putin and those close to him.”

The Russia News Agency, ITAR-TASS, said Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused the European Union of disrupting the peace talks with its call for new sanctions, saying the new penalties are “totally devoid of any logic and common sense.”

“Today, Brussels and heads of EU member states should give a clear answer to EU citizens why they are subjected to the risks of confrontation, economic stagnation and loss of jobs,” the ministry said. “Give people a chance for peace at last.”

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