EU leaders sign off on tougher Russian sanctions: Here's the big change

Peter Spence
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The US has added rifle producer Kalashnikov to its sanctions blacklist (Source: Getty)

In an attempt to increase the pressure on Russian leaders over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the European Council has agreed that stiffer medicine will be needed.

Following a declaration from the US, EU leaders have made one singificant change, agreeing to expand sanctions to those entities which provide "material or financial support to Russian decision makers".

The EU's Bank, the European Investment Bank, has also been asked to suspend new lending for Russia. The US' own measures included adding Russian banks, energy, and defense companies to its sanctions blacklist, including the manufacturer of the infamous AK-47, Kalashnikov.

One senior Russian diplomat has already condemned those additional US sanctions, saying that Russia will react in kind with measures that will be "quite painful and serious".

The European Council's statement reiterated a condemnation of "illegal activities by armed militants in eastern Ukraine, including the occupation of public buildings, hostage-taking and armed attacks on Ukrainian law enforcers and border guards". The EU wants the Russian state to "actively use its influence" to stop the movement of weapons and militants across the border, so that things might cool down.