The European Union has officially adopted new sanctions against Russia in connection with the Ukrainian crisis.
The new measures include restrictions on major Russian state-owned oil companies that raise money in European financial markets.
However, the new measures will take effect “in the coming days” and not on September 9, as some expected.
Russia denies accusations by Ukraine and the West that it is sending troops to help pro-Russian rebels.
EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the measures were aimed at “promoting a change of course in Russia’s actions to destabilize eastern Ukraine”.
The EU is deliberately blurring over when they will take effect to give time to assess the implementation of the ceasefire agreed on 5 September.
“Depending on the situation on the ground, the EU is ready to review the agreed sanctions in whole or in part,” said Herman van Rompuy.
The ceasefire appears to be ongoing, although the head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which mediated the deal, called it “shaky” on 8 September.
Before the armistice took effect, pro-Russian separatists had made great strides in eastern Ukraine and seized territory a few miles from the strategic southeastern port city of Mariupol.
The gas sector is not affected by the latest sanctions. However, this includes large state-owned oil companies, such as Rosneft, which has already targeted US measures.
Russia has warned it could block international flights through its airspace if the EU starts taking new measures.
Diplomats say the new package will target Russian oil companies Rosneft and Transneft, as well as the oil unit of the state gas monopoly Gazprom.
Their access to financial markets will be limited – a serious issue for Rosneft, which last month asked the Russian government for a $ 42 billion loan.
Also on September 8, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine had released 1,200 prisoners.
He said the release came after a ceasefire agreement that included an exchange of prisoners.
He was speaking during a visit to Mariupol, which has come under fire from pro-Russian insurgents in recent days.
During a visit Monday, Petro Poroshenko said the city’s defenses would be strengthened and the rebels would suffer a “crushing defeat” if they attacked the city.
Mariupol is the last city in the Donetsk region that still holds the Ukrainian government, and is a strategic port on the way to Crimea, a peninsula annexed by Russia in March.
About 2,600 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine since April.
The sanctions also extend visa sanctions and asset freezes for Russian officials and businesses, including separatist leaders in Ukraine.
Earlier, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that Moscow would “asymmetrically” react to further sanctions.
The ban on Russian airspace “could lead to the bankruptcy of many struggling airlines,” Dmitry Medvedev told the Russian daily.