Shelling in Ukraine, new sanctions vs. Russia

A man leans out to take a photo Tuesday from a damaged residential apartment house after shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Local residents said it was a shelling from direction of the Ukrainian army’s positions. The shelling killed at least two people, blew gaping holes in an apartment block and raised fears that the city is on the verge of severe bloodshed.

Fighting also raged elsewhere in Ukraine’s troubled east, bringing the death toll to at least 24 civilians and 10 soldiers over the past day. And it prevented international investigators once again from visiting the site of the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down this month.

The increased danger to civilians has brought sharp criticism from the United Nations and human rights groups. But each side of the conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels blames the other for shelling residential areas.

Also Tuesday, spurred to action by the downing of the Malaysian airliner, the European Union approved dramatically tougher economic sanctions against Russia, including an arms embargo and restrictions on state-owned banks. President Barack Obama swiftly followed with an expansion of U.S. penalties targeting key sectors of the Russian economy.

The coordinated sanctions were aimed at increasing pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his country’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, whom the West blames for taking down the passenger jet nearly two weeks ago. Obama and U.S. allies also warned that Russia was building up troops and weaponry along its border with Ukraine.

— The Associated Press