US President Barack Obama and the EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 21 people linked to unrest in Ukraine in the first significant moves aimed at isolating Russia in the aftermath of yesterday's referendum in Crimea.
In moves aimed at punishing Russia following its handling of the crisis, European Union foreign ministers imposed the sanctions on 21 people they have linked to the push for the secession and possible annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
It is thought the number of those targeted will expand in the coming days to include figures closer to President Vladimir Putin.
The moves are likely to inflame diplomatic tensions between Russia and the West. In a phone call on Sunday, Obama and Putin clashed over the referendum, with the Russian leader reportedly telling his US counterpart that the recognition of the former Yugoslavian territory as a sovereign state in 2008 established a legal framework for secession that could be repeated by other separatist movements.
The sanctions came hours after Crimea's parliament declared the region an independent state, following its residents' vote to break away from Ukraine and seek to join Russia.
Two diplomats said the sanctions targeted 13 Russians and eight people from Crimea, according to the AP news agency. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the breakdown of the nationalities had not been officially announced.
Crimea referendum and independence
Crimea referendum and independence
1/14 Crimea Referendum
A man shows his shirt with the Russian emblem as he celebrates the results of the Crimean referendum at the Lenin Square in Simferopol
2/14 Crimea Referendum
An elderly retired Soviet Navy officer and his wife take a walk in Sevastopol the morning after the referendum
3/14 Crimea Referendum
A man plays accordion as people dance during celebrations in Sevastopol
4/14 Crimea Referendum
People wave Russian flags as fireworks explode in the sky over Sevastopol following the announcement of the result of the referendum
5/14 Crimea Referendum
A member of a Ukrainian "Maidan" self-defense battalion takes part in training to qualify for service in the newly-created National Guard.
6/14 Crimea Referendum
Pro-Russian protesters hold a Russian, Crimean and Soviet flags during their rally at Lenin Square in Simferopol, Ukraine
7/14 Crimea Referendum
A member of the Crimean election commission waits for voters at the polling station in Belogorsk near Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
8/14 Crimea Referendum
Polling stations opened in Crimea for a referendum about whether the Ukrainian Black Sea region should join Russia. The vote has been widely condemned by Western governments, who call it illegal and have announced sanctions against Russia if it goes ahead. Thousands of unmarked forces, believed to be Russian, have appeared in Crimea after local Moscow-backed authorities asked Russia for protection against 'extremists' in the new Ukrainian leadership
9/14 Crimea Referendum
A lettering on the facade of the Council of Ministers building reads 'Spring in Crimea' in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
10/14 Crimea Referendum
People wave Crimean flags at Lenin square in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
11/14 Crimea Referendum
A poster in Crimea presents a stark choice - Nazism, or Russia - to voters ahead of the referendum
12/14 Crimea Referendum
Protesters against Ukraine’s referendum gather in Simferopol
13/14 Crimea Referendum
Action stations: Preparations for today’s referendum in Simferopol, where Crimea will vote to become part of Russia
14/14 Crimea Referendum
Cossacks guard the regional parliament building in Simferopol during the Crimean referendum
The ministers, meeting in Brussels, did not immediately release the names and nationalities of those targeted by the sanctions.
In the US, an executive order issued by President Obama revealed sanctions against seven Russian government officials.
The United States also said it had identified and targeted the assets of other individuals who weren't government officials but were supporting them.
The Treasury Department also is imposing sanctions on four Ukrainians, including former President Viktor Yanukovych and two Crimea-based separatist leaders.
In Brussels, after a meeting lasting around three hours, the EU's 28 foreign ministers agreed on a list of those to be sanctioned for their part in Russia's seizure of Crimea and Sunday's referendum on joining Russia.
The ministers had "just agreed on sanctions - travel restrictions and assets freeze against 21 officials from Ukraine & Russia," Lithuanian foreign minister Linan Linkevicius wrote in a message on Twitter.
He said more measures would follow in a few days, when EU leaders meet for a summit in Brussels. They are expected to expand the list to include more senior figures closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The referendum has been branded a "circus" directed at gunpoint by Moscow by Ukraine's new government in Kiev. Putin, however, insisted it was conducted in "full accordance with international law and the UN charter" and cited Kosovo's independence from Serbia as its precedent.
Crimean officials said 97 per cent had voted to join Russia.
Following the vote, the region took steps to integrate its financial system with Russia's - including adopting the ruble currency - ahead of declaring itself independent.
The West does not recognise the referendum, saying it violates both Ukrainian and international norms. Moscow considers the vote legitimate and Russian President Vladimir Putin will address his parliament on the issue tomorrow.
Additional reporting by APReuse content