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EU hits 4 Putin allies, 4 firms over Ukraine

The EU agreed to impose asset freezes and travel bans on Tuesday (July 29) against four close business associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as four firms, EU sources said.

BRUSSELS: The EU agreed to impose asset freezes and travel bans on Tuesday (July 29) against four close business associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as four firms, EU sources said.

The sanctions target "persons and entities supporting or benefiting from (the actions of) Russian decision-makers" in Ukraine, an EU official said earlier. The names are expected to be published on Wednesday in the European Union's Official Journal.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the 28 member state ambassadors to the EU, who were expected later to approve much wider economic sanctions against Moscow.

These tougher 'Phase 3' measures, as opposed to so-called 'Phase 2' asset freezes and travel bans, are meant to limit Russian access to European financial markets and so put its struggling economy under even more pressure.

Additionally, the EU plans to ban future arms sales to Russia, restrict the export of goods with both defence and civilian applications, and clamp down on technology transfers, especially in the energy sector.

On Saturday, the EU ambassadors imposed Phase 2 sanctions on 15 individuals and 18 entities, including Russia's intelligence chiefs. This brought the Phase 2 sanctions list to 87 people and 20 entities, with the EU spurred into action by the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, blamed on pro-Moscow rebels using a Russian-made missile.

Previously, the EU has hit members of Putin's political inner circle, including Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, but Tuesday's move is the first time they have targeted business figures close to the president.

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