The US and Europe Monday whacked Russia with fresh sanctions over Ukraine for failing to stop tensions soaring in the east of the ex-Soviet republic, where rebels seized another town and a pro-Moscow mayor was badly wounded by a shot to the back.
As the West sought to step up the pressure on Moscow over the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, the White House imposed sanctions on seven Russian officials and 17 firms close to President Vladimir Putin.
The European Union added 15 names to its own list, diplomatic sources said.
The Kremlin hit back almost immediately, vowing a “painful” response for Washington, in a tit-for-tat rhetorical battle.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency that Moscow was “disgusted” by the US action, which he said showed Washington had “completely lost touch with reality”.
The US said it was prepared to “impose still greater costs” on Russia for what it called its “illegal intervention and provocative actions” in Ukraine.
Among those targeted is Igor Sechin, president-chairman at Rosneft, Russia’s top petroleum company and one of the world’s largest publicly traded oil companies.
Washington is also tightening licensing requirements for certain high-tech exports to Russia that could have a military use.
The Western sanctions are a response to Russia’s perceived lack of action in implementing an April 17 deal struck in Geneva to defuse the crisis.
Washington threatened to target specific sectors of the Russian economy if tens of thousands of troops the Kremlin has ordered to the border actually invade Ukraine.
As the sanctions hammer swung at Russia, tensions on the ground in eastern Ukraine showed little sign of easing.
Kalashnikov-toting militants seized the town hall of Kostyantynivka — the latest of more than a dozen towns held by pro-Russian insurgents who were supposed to have disarmed under the Geneva deal.
The pro-Moscow mayor shot in the back, Gennady Kernes, of Kharkiv, was in critical condition. The identity and motive of the gunman who targeted him while he was riding his bicycle were unknown.
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