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An AK-47
An AK-47
Image: DVIDSHUB

The EU is targeting Russia's oil and AK47s in its latest round of sanctions

Meanwhile in Ukraine, the UN has launched a food aid operation in the war-torn east of the country.
Sep 12th 2014, 12:24 PM 7,757 89

THE EUROPEAN UNION has hit Russia with tougher sanctions, targeting oil and defence companies and adding individuals to a blacklist despite threats of retaliation from Moscow.

Russia’s foreign minsiter slammed the new sanctions, saying that ”adopting such decisions at the very moment when the peace process in Ukraine is gaining strength… this means choosing a path towards undermining the peace process”.

The measures hit big name firms such as Russian oil giants Rosneft and Transneft, and arms firm Kalashnikov, maker of the iconic AK47 assault rifle widely used around the world.

Putin’s ally

The firebrand nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky is one of several allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the list of 24 people hit with travel bans and asset freezes.

The new round of sanctions – the latest in a series since Russia annexed Crimea in March — took effect Friday after being published in the EU’s official journal.

“In view of the gravity of the situation, the (European) Council considers it appropriate to take further restrictive measures in response to Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine,” the order said.

The EU’s 28 member states finally approved the sanctions on Thursday after a week of deep divisions about whether they should be implemented despite a ceasefire in Ukraine.

But European Council president Herman Van Rompuy said the punitive measures could be lifted depending on a review of the Ukraine truce at the end of September.

Belgium Europe Ukraine Source: AP/Press Association Images

Russia is a major trading partner for the EU and many member states, especially in eastern Europe, rely heavily on Russian oil and gas supplies to keep their economies going.

Under the new sanctions, oil producers Rosneft and Transneft plus the petroleum unit of gas giant Gazprom are denied access to longer-term finance in crucial European markets.

Russian deep sea and arctic oil exploration are also targeted.

Meanwhile, the UN’s World Food Programme announced the launch of its first food aid operation in Ukraine, saying it had begun distributing rations in the country’s conflict-torn east.

“In its first operation in Ukraine, the United Nations World Food Programme is rolling out food assistance for vulnerable people affected by the conflict, distributing food in transit centres and public shelters in Donetsk and Lugansk in East Ukraine,” WFP said in a statement.

Ukraine A Pro-Russian rebel passes by windows secured with wooden logs after the bombing of a local mine on the front line in the town of Donetsk. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The UN agency said it was responding to a request for assistance from the Ukraine government and that it aimed to help feed as many as 120,000 people over the next six months at a cost of $15 million.

“The fighting in the last few months primarily in the cities of Lugansk and Donetsk and surrounding areas has significantly disrupted access to food and basic services,” explained Carlo Scaramella, WFP deputy regional director in eastern Europe.

“While many have remained, thousand of other families have fled their homes at short notice, often without anything even for the journey,” he said in the statement.

Since the beginning of September, WFP and its partners have already distributed 10,000 daily food rations, or enough to feed 2,000 people for five days, it said.

- © AFP, 2014

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