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Ukraine

EU ambassadors reach preliminary Russia sanctions deal

European Union ambassadors meeting in Brussels have reached a preliminary agreement on stepping up sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. The proposals are to be reviewed next week.

The preliminary deal covered sanctions targeting Russia's access to European capital markets and its imports in the sectors of defense and dual-use goods - those that can be applied to both civilian and military purposes - and other sensitive technologies.

The ambassadors are scheduled to reconvene next Tuesday to review the proposals after they have been formulated as regulations by officials, EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.

She said EU member states had to decide whether the measures would need approval at a summit meeting of the bloc to go into effect.

In a news release, the European Union announced that the ambassadors had also slapped EU-wide asset freezes and travel bans on 15 more Russians and Ukrainians accused of working against the country's status as a sovereign territory. The measures were to take effect immediately and would bring the number of people under EU sanction over Russia's actions in Ukraine to 87.

Tougher tones to Moscow

On Tuesday, EU foreign ministers had ordered the preparation of stepped-up economic sanctions in connection with Russia's annexation of Crimea in March and its alleged support of a separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine.

Calls for tighter sanctions by the bloc have become louder following the apparent shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner over eastern Ukraine just over a week ago.

On Friday, a spokesman for Ukraine's security council said that 13 soldiers had been killed while battling separatists in the past 24 hours.

The Ukrainian army has also reported that its soldiers came under artillery fire from the Russian side of the border overnight.

tj/mkg (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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