BRUSSELS — The United States and the European Union, finally in synch on how to deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, are preparing a powerful one-two punch against Russia's economy, with EU ambassadors meeting Tuesday to discuss a dramatic escalation in the trade bloc's sanctions.
Frustrated by the apparent ineffectiveness of previous sanctions and outraged by the deaths of 298 people aboard the Malaysia Airlines plane downed over eastern Ukraine, ambassadors were considering measures including limits on Russia's access to European capital markets and a halt in trade in arms and dual-use and sensitive technologies.
A decision on new EU sanctions was expected later in the day.
Europe, which has a much bigger trade relationship with Russia than the U.S., had lagged behind Washington in its earlier punitive measures, in part out of concern from leaders that the penalties could hurt their own economies. But on Monday, in a rare videoconference call with President Barack Obama, the leaders of Britain, Germany, Italy and France expressed their willingness to adopt new sanctions against Russia in coordination with the United States, an official French statement said.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said it was agreed the EU should adopt a "strong package of sectoral sanctions as swiftly as possible."