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EU Preparing to Expand Russian Sanctions to Crimean Firms

May 8 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union is preparing to extend sanctions to companies in Crimea that it alleges benefited from Russian annexation, an EU official said.

Ambassadors from the EU’s 28 member states have provisionally agreed to expand its list of targets for sanctions to protest Russia’s moves in Ukraine, and may include companies as well as people, the official told reporters in Brussels today on condition of anonymity. EU foreign ministers are set to take a final decision at a meeting on Monday.

The EU has so far limited its sanctions, including asset freezes and visa bans, to individuals it accused of involvement in the destabilization of Ukraine, rather than companies, as member states clashed over the scope of penalties. The U.S., whose economy is less intertwined with Russia’s than the EU’s, has gone further, targeting firms associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

EU foreign ministers on Monday will “have a debate on the situation, on all new elements, as well as the EU’s response to it,” Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton, told reporters separately today in Brussels. “The preparatory meetings are ongoing.”

The change to the legal scope of the EU sanctions agreed to by ambassadors would allow the so-called stage-two measures to be imposed on organizations in Crimea such as financial institutions and energy companies, the EU official said. The ambassadors did not agree to extend sanctions to companies in Russia.

Ministers may also agree on Monday to add more individuals to the list of those sanctioned, the official said. The bloc is still far from agreeing to impose “stage three” sanctions that would have a broader economic impact, the official said.

The EU has so far blacklisted 70 people, including Russians, Ukrainians and Crimeans, whom it accuses of destabilizing Ukraine or misappropriating funds in the country.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net Jones Hayden, Peter Chapman

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