Merkel and Putin during a meeting in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014.
Merkel and Putin during a meeting in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014. Photo by Reuters
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REUTERS - The United States could unveil new economic sanctions on Russia over its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine "as soon as today," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Tuesday.

The new measures would come as the European Union finalizes sanctions against Russia's financial, defense and energy sectors, its most sweeping sanctions so far.

"This is not the finish line here. We need to assess whether or not these economic costs that are being imposed on Russia have the desired effect," Earnest told reporters in a briefing.

The EU's decision to impose broad sanctions against Russia was "unavoidable" after its actions in Ukraine and it is now up to Moscow to make the next move, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.

"The decision today was thus unavoidable," Merkel said in a statement, adding that EU leaders had repeatedly warned Moscow that the annexation of Crimea and continued destabilization of east Ukraine were not acceptable.

"It is now up to the leadership in Russia to decide whether they want to go the way of de-escalation and cooperation," Merkel said. "The EU sanctions can be reviewed but further steps are also possible."

The United States has been working closely with the EU to step up sanctions. Earnest gave no details about the new U.S. sanctions, but said the EU sanctions "will track pretty closely with the previous announcements that have been made by this administration."

The last round of U.S. sanctions, announced on July 17, hit Russia's largest oil producer Rosneft, its second largest gas producer Novatek and its third largest bank Gazprombank, as well as other banks, prominent individuals and the weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov.