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Ukraine crisis: EU, US impose sanctions over Crimea

The EU and US have announced travel bans and asset freezes against a number of officials from Russia and Ukraine.

The moves follow Sunday’s referendum in Crimea, in which officials say 97% of voters backed breaking away from Ukraine and joining Russia.

The individuals targeted by the sanctions are seen as having played a key role in the referendum, which Kiev, the US and EU deem illegal.

Pro-Russian forces have been in control of Crimea since late February.

Moscow says the troops are pro-Russian self-defence forces and not under its direct control.

The crisis follows the ousting on 22 February of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych, who had sparked months of street protests by rejecting a planned EU trade deal in favour of closer ties with Moscow.

US President Barack Obama said in a press conference that Washington stood “ready to impose further sanctions” depending on whether Russia escalated or de-escalated the situation in Ukraine.

If Moscow continued to intervene in Ukraine, he warned, it would “achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world”.

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