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US, Europe impose tough new sanctions on Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Spurred to new action by the downing of the Malaysia airliner, the European Union approved dramatically tougher economic sanctions Tuesday against Russia, followed swiftly by a new round of U.S. penalties targeting key sectors of the Russian economy.

The coordinated sanctions were aimed at increasing pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his country’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine whom the West blames for taking down the passenger jet nearly two weeks ago.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin he arrives for an official group photo during the BRICS summit at the Itamaraty palace, in Brasilia, Brazil July 16. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File )

“Today Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of genuine progress,” President Barack Obama said. “It does not have to be this way. This a choice Russia and President Putin has made.”

Europe’s actions were particularly significant given that the continent has a far stronger economic relationship with Russia than the U.S. does Until this week, the EU sanctions had lagged behind the American penalties, in part because of leaders’ concerns about a negative impact on their own economies.

But Europe’s calculus shifted sharply after a surface-to-air missile brought down the passenger jet, killing nearly 300 people including more than 200 Europeans.

Dahlburg reported from Brussels.

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