Russia slaps sanctions on nine Ukrainian companies

·1 min read

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has imposed economic sanctions against nine Ukrainian companies, expanding a list of firms that it targets with such penalties, according to a government decree.

Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads since 2014 when Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and backed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Russia denies Kiev's charges that its military was involved in the conflict.

Western countries have imposed a range of sanctions since then on Russia, which has retaliated with its own measures.

The companies targeted by "special economic measures" under the new Russian decree, which was published late on Friday, include Ukrainian vessel maker Craneship, towage firm Donmar, cargo operator Transship and metal producer Maxima Metal.

The decree did not say why these nine companies had been targeted.

There was no immediate response from Ukraine to the move, which takes the number of its companies sanctioned by Russia to 84.

In a sign of further strains in Russia's relations with the West, Moscow said on Friday it was ready to sever ties with the European Union if the bloc hit it with painful economic sanctions, a statement that Germany described as disconcerting and incomprehensible.

(Reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya in Moscow; additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kyiv; Writing by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Gareth Jones)