New Western Sanctions to Target Russian Defense Industry
The U.S. says new Western economic sanctions against Russia for its involvement in Ukraine will target Moscow's defense industry and companies with close links to President Vladimir Putin.
A White House aide, deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken, told Sunday news shows in the U.S. that starting this week the latest sanctions would exert "additional pressure" on the corporate officials closest to Mr. Putin and the companies they control.
Blinken said high technology exports to the defense firms would be targeted and predicted that "all of this together is going to have an impact."
The increased sanctions are the latest attempt by the U.S. and its European allies to try to force Mr. Putin to curb Russia's role in eastern Ukraine and pull back its military forces from near the Russian border with Ukraine. Earlier sanctions targeted some banking activities and other corporate officials close to Mr. Putin.
Whether the sanctions are having a direct effect on the Russian economy is hard to determine. The Russian economy had been weakening even before Russia's stalemate with the West over Ukraine evolved, with growth expected this year to be negligible. Blinken said that Moscow's financial markets have dropped 22 percent since the beginning of the year, the ruble is at all-time low and investors have withdrawn $70 billion from the Russian economy.
Iraq's Security Forces Cast Ballots for Parliament
Members of Iraq's security forces began voting Monday in the country's first election since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in late 2011.
The security forces are voting two days ahead of the rest of Iraq for the new parliament.
The lead-up to the vote has been marred by violence with Sunni militants targeting security forces and members of the nation's Shi'ite majority.
Analysts say voters Wednesday will likely cast ballots along sectarian and ethnic lines.