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EU expands Ukraine sanctions

European Union foreign ministers added 13 people Monday to their visa ban and asset freeze list over Ukraine's crisis but are not expected to decide whether to impose tough economic measures on Russia before Ukraine's May 25 elections, officials said.

The 28 EU ministers also said in a statement that two firms in Russia-annexed Crimea would be hit with asset freezes later Monday.

The ministers agreed to expand the scope of visa bans and asset freezes to target people undermining stability in Ukraine or obstructing international organizations there.

The Obama administration has its own sanctions list that targets several close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin and their assets for Russia's actions in Ukraine.

France's European affairs minister, Harlem Desir, said additional EU sanctions may be imposed if "actions and provocations" hamper the Ukraine presidential election campaign. He said the 13 people targeted Monday included "Ukrainian separatists and Russian officials."

The targets of the new sanctions include Russia's top prosecutor in Crimea; the commander of Russian airborne troops; a member of Putin's staff, and people identified by the EU as leaders of the armed pro-Moscow revolt in eastern Ukraine.

A total of 61 people are now on the EU's sanctions list due to Ukraine.

The two companies sanctioned, Chernomorneftgaz and Fedosia, have been effectively confiscated by the new leaders in Crimea following a resolution by the pro-Russian local parliament that proclaimed the appropriation of their assets, the EU said.

Beyond the visa and asset measures, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it is essential to show Moscow the bloc is ready to step up measures further "depending on Russia's attitude toward the elections" in Ukraine.

France and Germany had already called on Russia to promote de-escalation in Ukraine so its presidential elections could take place May 25. If there is no action from President Vladimir Putin, the EU could increase sanctions, the two nations said.

The EU threw its weight behind efforts of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe set up talks in Ukraine to contain the chaos and violence. France and Germany have already called for a "national dialogue" between the interim government in Kyiv and representatives of all Ukrainian regions.

As listed on the website of the European Union's Official Journal, the new individuals sanctioned are:

--Vyacheslav Volodin, first deputy chief of staff of the presidential administration of Russia.

---Col. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, commander of the Russian airborne troops.

---Vladimir Pligin, chairman of the constitutional law committee of the Russian Duma.

---Pyotr Jarosh, acting head of the Federal Migration Service Office for Crimea.

---Oleg Kozyura, acting head of the Federal Migration Service Office for the city of Sevastopol.

---Vlacheslav Ponomariov, self-declared mayor of the city of Slaviansk.

---Igor Bezler, a leader of the self-proclaimed militia of Horlivka.

---Igor Kakidzyanov, a leader of the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

---Oleg Tsariov, member of the Rada.

---Roman Lyagin, head of the Donetsk People's Republic's Central Electoral Commission.

---Aleksandr Malykhin, head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic's Central Electoral Commission.

---Natalia Poklonskaya, prosecutor in Crimea.

---Igor Shevchenko, acting prosecutor of Sevastopol.

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Follow Raf Casert on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert

The Canadian Press

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