The mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city was shot in the back and pro-Russia insurgents seized more government buildings Monday as the U.S. hit Russia with more sanctions for allegedly fomenting the unrest in eastern Ukraine.
Armed insurgents tacitly backed by Moscow are seeking more autonomy in the region — possibly even independence or annexation with Russia. Ukraine’s acting government and the West have accused Russia of orchestrating the unrest, which they fear Moscow could use as a pretext for an invasion.
Last month, Russia annexed Crimea weeks after seizing control of the Black Sea peninsula.
In a bid to ratchet up the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Barack Obama announced new sanctions on seven Russian officials and 17 companies with links to Putin’s inner circle. The U.S. is also revoking licenses for high-tech items that could be used by the Russian military.
The White House has said Russia’s involvement in the recent violence in eastern Ukraine is indisputable and warned that the U.S. and its partners were prepared to impose deeper penalties if Russia’s provocations continue.
Obama announced the sanctions while traveling in the Philippines, the last stop on a weeklong trip to Asia. He said that while his goal was not to target Putin personally, he was seeking to “change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he’s engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul.”