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Additional EU Sanctions Target Russia's Actions In Ukraine

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's Business News starts with new sanctions against Russia. The European Union imposed more sanctions today on Russia's financial, energy and high-tech sectors. They're also targeting individuals suspected of meddling in Ukraine. The United States has pledged to follow suit. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: The newest EU sanctions were originally drawn up last week, but many European leaders were reluctant to enact them because of the harm they might inflict on their own economies. A key concern for many here is whether Russia will cut its natural gas supply to the 28-nation bloc. Some countries like Poland and Slovakia are already reporting drops in their Russian provided supply. German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged fellow EU leaders to set aside their fears. She says the sanctions are needed to prod Russia into making sure a cease-fire between the separatists it backs and the Kiev government holds.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL: (Speaking German).

NELSON: Merkel told German lawmakers, we'll be the first to lift the sanctions if the peace plan is adhered to because sanctions aren't the goal here. European leaders agreed to lift the new sections next month if the cease-fire holds and any Russian troops and armaments in eastern Ukraine are withdrawn. News of the sanctions sent the Russian ruble tumbling against the U.S. dollar. The Russian Foreign Ministry sharply rebuked the EU, calling the penalties improper and shortsighted and a threat to the fragile peace process. The ministry adds Russia will respond to the sanctions. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Berlin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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