EU WARNING: Russia promises RESPONSE as Brussels hits Moscow with fresh sanctions

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The U.S. Treasury sanctions also target six Russian defense firms operating in Crimea, the statement said, "several of which misappropriated Ukrainian state assets to provide services to the Russian military" during its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

In their resolution, the European Parliament was also unequivocal in its call for the adoption of a European "Magnitsky Act" similar to the legislation adopted by the United States in 2012 and meant to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009.

"The United States and our transatlantic partners will not allow Russia's continued aggression against Ukraine to go unchecked", Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was quoted as saying.

We, with our worldwide partners, stand with Ukraine in opposing Russia's ongoing efforts to undermine Ukrainian security, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The decision takes the number of people blacklisted by the bloc over the crisis in Ukraine to 170 persons and 44 entities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a provocation, noting that there were members of the Ukrainian security service, who were in charge of the operation, on board the Ukrainian vessels.

Four of the six Russian officials targeted by the measure were involved in the attack near the Kerch Strait attack in November off the coast of Crimea, the Treasury said.

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The six defence firms were targeted over their operations in Crimea, where the USA says several "misappropriated Ukrainian state assets to provide services to the Russian military".

As stated by the European Council on 13 December, the EU requests the immediate release of all detained Ukrainian seamen as well as the return of the seized vessels and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Strait.

New companies on the US sanctions list are the following: Yaroslavsky Shipbuilding Plant, Zelenodolsk Shipyard Plant named after A.M. Gorky, AO Kontsern Okeanpribor (Okeanpribor), PAO Zvezda (Zvezda), AO Zavod Fiolent (Fiolent), GUP RK KTB Sudokompozit (Sudokompozit), LLC SK Consol-Stroi LTD, and LLC Novye Proekty.

Russia responded by occupying Ukraine's southern Crimean Peninsula and helping separatists in eastern Ukrainian provinces close to the Russian border begin a violent rebellion.

The billionaire was slapped with sanctions in April previous year, which targeted tycoons with close ties to the Kremlin.

"I have spent 30 years of my life building companies that are major players in the global economy, and will not let that hard work - along with millions of jobs and individual livelihoods - be destroyed by political scheming", he said in the statement sent by his spokeswoman.

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