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US sanctions close associates of Putin, Russian bank over Ukrainian crisis

WASHINGTON - Increasing pressure on Russia for its incursion into Crimea, the U.S. on Thursday sanctioned some of President Vladimir Putin's close friends and associates, members of his inner circle, government officials, some of the richest men in the country and a major bank. The latest punitive measures freeze any assets that those being sanctioned currently hold within U.S. jurisdiction and prohibit Americans from conducting transactions with those targeted. Those sanctioned are:

Kremlin raps new U.S. sanctions list, will retaliate

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said on Thursday it was "unacceptable" for the United States to impose sanctions on Russians and warned Moscow would respond in kind to U.S. measures meant to punish allies of Putin. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin was studying a list of 20 more Russians hit with U.S. visa bans and asset freezes over Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region. The United States had designated 11 Russians and Ukrainians on Monday.

U.N.'s Ban urges restraint in 'very volatile' Ukraine crisis

MOSCOW (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said tension between Ukraine and Russia poses "great risks to the countries themselves and beyond" and urged restraint by all parties in a crisis that could spin out of control. "I have emphasized that all parties (should) refrain from any hasty or provocative actions that could further exacerbate the already very tense and very volatile situation," Ban said after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.

Obama expands sanctions, threatens Russian economy

US President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Vladimir Putin's inner circle and a "crony bank" for Russia's elite Thursday, while threatening to target Russia's broader economy over the Ukraine crisis. "Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community," Obama said at the White House. Even as US officials reeled off a list of Russians targeted in the worst East-West crisis in years, Moscow hit back with its own sanctions aimed at Obama's closest political advisors and top lawmakers.

Sanctions lists against Russia 'unacceptable': Putin spokesman

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman on Thursday condemned new anti-Russian sanctions announced by US President Barack Obama as unacceptable and noted that some of the names on the blacklist caused "bewilderment." "Whatever names feature on the list, the very practice of some sort of list is unacceptable for us," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.

Factbox: U.S. sanctions target 20 more individuals, Russian bank

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday expanded its list of sanctions on Russians over the seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region, after announcing the first round of sanctions on Monday. Senior Obama administration officials also said the action on Thursday paves the way for President Barack Obama to broaden sanctions beyond individuals and target various sectors, including financial services, energy, mining, engineering and defense sectors. Below is a list of the 20 latest targets of the U.S. sanctions:

Obama expands sanctions, threatens Russian economy

US President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on more Russian officials and a bank Thursday and threatened to target the broader Russian economy if Moscow escalates its actions against Ukraine. "Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community," Obama said at the White House. The new measures targeted a new list of 20 lawmakers and senior government officials in addition to 11 people already sanctioned by Washington.

UN chief calls for deployment of UN, OSCE rights monitors to Ukraine

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for the deployment of UN and OSCE rights monitors to Ukraine and called for an "honest and constructive dialogue" between Moscow and Kiev. Speaking after talks with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, Ban said that the two discussed "legitimate concerns that Russia and President Putin has, particularly in terms of human rights protection and of those Russian-speaking people and Russian minorities."

Russia probes journalist over Crimea joke

Russian prosecutors on Thursday were investigating a journalist who jokingly appealed to Vladimir Putin to send troops to his region of Vologda to protect its population from corrupt officials. In a witty appeal posted on Facebook this month, Roman Romanenko, chief editor of a local newspaper, added the Kremlin would not face any international sanctions if it improved the lives of Russians in the region around the city of Vologda, located some 500 kilometres to the northeast of Moscow.

European stocks mixed before Fed outcome

European stock markets closed mixed on Wednesday, as traders awaited Janet Yellen's first news conference as head of the Federal Reserve and digested Britain's budget. Germany's DAX closed up 0.37 percent to 9,277,05 points, boosted by sharp gains from BMW after the luxury carmaker posted solid financial results for 2013 and issued a bullish forecast for this year. However, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index slid 0.49 percent to finish at 6,573.13 points, despite the British government revising higher its growth forecast this year as the country moves out of recession.
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