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US announces more sanctions against Russia

Pro-Russian protesters clashed with pro-Ukrainian supporters during a rally Monday in Donetsk, Ukraine.

Roman Pilipey/EPA

Pro-Russian protesters clashed with pro-Ukrainian supporters during a rally Monday in Donetsk, Ukraine.

WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday imposed additional sanctions against Russian government officials and companies deemed close to President Vladimir Putin, accusing Moscow of failing to live up to its agreement to defuse the crisis in Ukraine.

The Obama administration ordered travel bans and asset freezes for seven Russian officials, including two said to be in Putin’s inner circle, and froze assets for 17 companies. Thirteen Russian companies will also face additional restrictions as the government will cut off the export or reexport of US-made products to them.

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Additionally, the State and Commerce departments announced a new policy to deny export license applications for high-technology items that could contribute to Russia’s military capabilities.

The two departments will revoke existing export licenses along those lines, a White House statement read. The European Union plans to follow with sanctions on 15 Russians, officials said.

In Ukraine on Monday, unidentified gunmen opened fire on the mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, seriously wounding him with at least one bullet to the back while he was riding a bicycle near a major highway, municipal officials said.

The shooting potentially shifts the crisis in the east of the country onto new and perilous ground.

The mayor, Gennady A. Kernes, had been regarded as seeking to steer a middle course as pro-Russian militants conduct a campaign of occupations of key facilities in eastern cities that is widely believed to be aimed at drawing the region closer into Moscow’s orbit or prompting a Russian intervention similar to the events that led to the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea.

Municipal officials said that the gunmen shot Kernes in the back around 12 p.m. and that he was undergoing surgery for life-threatening injuries. No arrests were reported.

The mayor’s death would be the first assassination of a major politician in the east and present a new challenge to the interim authorities in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, who have seemed largely powerless to dislodge pro-Russian militants and regain control of the east.

Kernes has said he supports a united Ukraine and opposes Russian intervention. But he was a supporter of the deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych, and has called the new government tyrannical and illegitimate.

Also Monday, Konstantinovka became the latest city to fall in eastern Ukraine when militants raised the flag of the Donetsk People’s Republic above the city administration building.

Fewer than a dozen armed men, wearing camouflage and black masks and carrying rifles and a grenade launcher, guarded the building’s entrance here as a work crew erected barricades along the sidewalk. “We want a referendum,” the group’s commander said, declining to give his name.

Also, negotiations for the release of a European military observer team held by militants in Slovyansk resumed with the return to the city of diplomats from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Among the Russians targeted for new US sanctions Monday was Igor I. Sechin, president of the state-owned Rosneft oil company and a longtime Putin adviser.

Although administration officials said over the weekend that they also expected Alexei B. Miller, the head of the energy giant Gazprom, to possibly be targeted, President Obama ultimately chose a list that did not include him.

Others who face sanctions include Dmitry N. Kozak, a deputy prime minister; Vyacheslav V. Volodin, a deputy chief of staff to Putin; and Alexei Pushkov, the chairman of the international affairs committee of the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament.

The companies targeted included several banks, including Sobinbank, and energy companies like the Stroytransgaz Group and various related entities.

Stroytransgaz and its related companies form the pipeline construction arm of Gazprom that maintains and expands the Russian domestic natural gas pipeline network, the world’s largest gas pipeline system, and for years the companies have been the focus of suspicion by financial analysts that they are used to siphon money from Gazprom to insiders.

The Stroytransgaz companies were initially affiliated with the 1990s-era management of Gazprom but later shifted to the control of longtime associates of Putin, including the brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg.

In imposing sanctions on Sechin, the administration has targeted a top partner of Exxon Mobil, which has multiple joint ventures with Rosneft. It is not known if Sechin has any US assets to freeze, but he will no longer be permitted into the country to consult with his Exxon Mobil partners. Exxon Mobil had no comment.

The firms targeted Monday were all tied to Russian businessmen who were targeted in previous rounds of sanctions.

Eleven of the companies were linked to Gennady N. Timchenko, including the Volga Group, his private investment holding company.

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