The US and the EU are set to impose additional sanctions on Russia, over its role in the political uprisings in Ukraine.
The move comes after pro-Russian activists kidnapped eight Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors in Sloviansk, although one was freed on medical grounds.
Unnamed sources familiar with the situation were quoted by Reuters as saying that the latest sanctions are in response to Russia’s alleged efforts to destabilise eastern Ukraine.
The EU is likely to add 15 more individuals to the list of those to whom sanctions apply, while the US will impose bans on entities and individuals, including supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the sources added.
White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken said that the US will target individuals who are in Putin’s inner circle and have a significant impact on the Russian economy.
"We’ll be looking to designate companies that they and other inner-circle people control," Blinken said.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague was cited by BBC News as saying that the sanctions will likely ‘be an extension of existing sanctions, of the travel bans and asset freezes on individuals’.
The US and EU have also slapped travel bans on certain Russian officials in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, an autonomous Ukrainian region with a majority ethnic Russian population.
Meanwhile, pro-Russia insurgents continue to occupy government buildings in at least a dozen eastern-Ukrainian cities in defiance of the Kiev government, which launched the second phase of its ‘anti-terrorist operation’ to squeeze out the rebels and assert authority in the region.