EU reaches preliminary deal on sectoral sanctions against Russia

European Union ambassadors reached a preliminary deal Friday to impose sector-wide sanctions against Russia meant to cripple its economy in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine last week, Reuters reports

The ambassadors asked the European Commission on Friday to produce legal text that would outline the economic sanctions if the deal is approved next week.

The commission has suggested closing EU capital markets to state owned-Russian banks, imposing an embargo on arms sales to Moscow and restrictions on the supply of energy and dual-use technologies, the report said. 

Reuters noted that it’s unclear whether the legal text would include those recommendations.

EU officials, however, confirmed the sanctions would ban Russia’s access to European financial markets, and defense and energy technology and equipment. 

On Friday, the EU also said it would move forward with listing additional Russian individuals and companies to its sanctions list. 

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Friday suggested the administration could soon impose additional sanctions on Russia.

“In terms of timing, I’m not in a position to give any details,” he told reporters on Friday, adding that it would be “unwise strategically for me to send clear signals about the content or timing of the sanctions.”

Senior administration officials, he said, will likely have conversations with their European counterparts over the weekend to discuss how to deal with the crisis in Ukraine.

Any outside observer, he said, could make the reasonable assumption that “Europeans are motivated now more than ever to impose additional economic sanctions.”

Several members of Congress earlier this week urged the Obama administration to impose broad sector sanctions against Russia and not to wait for Europe. 

The day before the plane crash Thursday, President Obama announced another round of sanctions targeting two major Russian banks and two major energy companies.

The move by the European Union comes amid new reports that Russia has shelled Ukrainian military positions.

This story was updated at 3:26 p.m.