The European Union added two deputy Russian ministers, along with a host of senior members of the administrations in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, to its latest round of sanctions over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Russia’s deputy minister of defence Anatoly Antonov and first deputy minister of defence Arkady Bakhin, alongside the head of the Moscow branch of the Communist Party Valery Rashkin and State Duma deputy Iosif Kobzon find themselves directly targeted for their alleged role in “supporting the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine”.
In total, the EU is now targeting 151 individuals and 37 entities with sanctions.
The move comes less than 24 hours since a new ceasefire came into effect in the country, amid widespread reports that fighting continued between government forces and pro-Moscow rebels around the railway town of Debaltseve.
Even as the deal was being signed, Kiev reported that 50 tanks and 40 missile systems were spotted, crossing the border into Ukraine from Russia in what many saw as an effort to shore up the rebel position in disputed areas before the ceasefire came into force on Sunday.
Also, on the list are a number of prominent militia groups that are accused of supporting actions that threaten Ukraine’s territorial integrity. These include the Cossack National Guard, the Sparta battalion, the Somali battalion and the colourfully named батальон ‘смерть’ — Death battalion.
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