New EU sanctions on Russia take effect

New EU sanctions against Russia have gone into force, blocking loans for five big state banks and curbing EU business with oil and defence firms.

The aim is to maintain pressure on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis. However the measures could be eased if a ceasefire in Ukraine holds.

Russia says it is preparing a response. One top Russian official said cars imported from the EU could be targeted.

The EU sanctions will block the export of services and deep-water technology for Russia’s oil industry.

Three major Russian state oil firms are targeted: Rosneft, Transneft and Gazprom Neft, the oil unit of gas giant Gazprom.

The access, of three major Russian state oil firms, to financial markets will be restricted; potentially a serious matter for Rosneft, which last month sought a loan of $42bn loan from the Russian government.

Big Russian state-owned banks will also be barred from getting loans with a maturity longer than one month, and from getting other financial services in the EU.