World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia's Foreign Ministry vowed on Saturday to react if the European Union implements new sanctions against Moscow over its role in the Ukraine crisis.
"If they (new sanctions) are implemented of course there will be a reaction from our side," the ministry said in a statement.
The Russian foreign ministry said the EU was "practically sending a signal of direct support to the 'party of war' in Kiev."
Its statement added, "Instead of feverishly searching for ways to hurt the economies of its own countries and Russia, the European Union would do better to work on supporting the economic revival of the Donbas region."
The EU announced the additional measures late on Friday but said they could be suspended if Moscow withdraws its troops from Ukraine and observes a newly agreed ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
The new sanctions include adding a further 24 people to a list of people barred from entry to the 28-nation bloc and whose assets are frozen. They are due to be implemented on Monday.
Some provisions will make it harder for Russian state-owned firms to raise finance in the EU. Diplomats expect them to hit, among others, the oil company Rosneft and units of Gazprom, though not the gas firm itself, a main supplier to the EU.
"The ambassadors agreed on a package of sanctions against persons and sectors of the Russian economy," one senior EU diplomat involved in the talks told Reuters.
"The implementation is expected on Monday," the diplomat said. "A ceasefire must hold for sanctions to be lifted."
Earlier, diplomats spoke of possibly postponing the sanctions coming into force for up to a week to give President Vladimir Putin time to show he was resolving the conflict. But impatience with Russia's ambiguity in the Ukraine conflict won.
Confirming the deal should take effect on Monday, the presidents of the European Commission, the EU's executive, and of the European Council, which groups the 28 governments, said: "It will give the European Union an effective tool, which should allow us to provide a response within a short time span. It will increase the effectiveness of the measures already in place."
Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Council President Herman Van Rompuy said: "It will also reinforce the principle that EU sanctions are directed at promoting a change of course in Russia's actions in Ukraine."
Ukrainian government representatives and pro-Russian rebels agreed to declare a ceasefire on Friday at talks in Minsk, the first such breakthrough in the five-month war, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel said signing the deal was not in itself enough to halt sanctions.
Merkel told a news conference at a NATO summit that it would have to be verified whether the ceasefire was being implemented, whether Russian troops were being withdrawn and whether a buffer zone was established. "Everything is in flux," she said.
"Therefore we should expect that these sanctions could indeed be put into force, but with the proviso that they can be suspended again if this process really takes place," Merkel said.
Britain also backed such a solution.
The European Union and United States imposed sanctions against Russia after Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March, and tightened them since then, accusing Russia of supporting pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's east.
The latest wave of sanctions was announced after Western countries said they believed Russia had sent ground troops into Ukraine, helping the rebels with a major advance last week.Last Mod: 06 Eylül 2014, 16:25