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EU's new sanctions target Putin inner circle

Friday - 3/21/2014, 12:41pm  ET

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, smiles while he waits for Russian President Vladimir Putin to address the Federal Assembly in the Kremlin in Moscow, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. The United States and its European allies stepped up their pressure on Russia to end its intervention in Ukraine by imposing the most comprehensive sanctions against Russian officials since the Cold War. Rogozin is on the list. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MIKE CORDER
Associated Press

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union's new sanctions announced Friday will hit the inner circle of President Vladimir Putin, including a deputy prime minister, two presidential advisers and the speakers of both houses of parliament.

Still, the list of individuals is not as high-powered as the one the United States is targeting.

EU leaders added 12 people to their list of 21 officials they are hitting with visa bans and asset freezes to punish Russia for its takeover of the Crimean Peninsula. It includes Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and three others who already made it onto a U.S. list of targets this week.

It also includes television anchor Dmitry Kiselyov, described as "the central figure of the government propaganda supporting the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine."

Also on the list are high-ranking military officials, including two deputy commanders of the Black Sea Fleet, which is based on the Crimean Peninsula.

Russia has already hit back at the United States by announcing it would impose asset freezes on a number of high-ranking U.S. officials. But it has yet to take retaliatory action against the EU.

Beyond targeting officials linked to the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, the EU leaders also decided at their summit to prepare economic sanctions in case Russia expands its intervention beyond Crimea into eastern Ukraine. The EU leaders also scrapped a scheduled EU-Russia summit as part of the intensifying standoff over Ukraine, which has turned into one of the biggest political battlegrounds in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

Beyond punishing Russia, the EU leaders also showed backing for Ukraine, which lost Crimea to Moscow on Tuesday, by signing a political cooperation agreement.

EU President Herman Van Rompuy said that signing Friday's deal with Ukraine, "is a sign of our solidarity with the people of Ukraine, of our support for their aspirations and their thirst for change."

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Vladimir Isachenkov contributed from Moscow.

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