Obama: Downed plane in Ukraine may 'stiffen the spine' of Europe as it weighs Russia sanctions

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says the downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine “may stiffen the spine of our European partners” as they consider additional sanctions against Russia.

Obama welcomed Europe’s earlier sanctions against Russia, but says the actions have come “not always as fast as we’d like.”

The European Union agreed Thursday to add more names to the list of Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians subject to EU-wide asset freezes and travel bans. The EU is also considering broader measures that target key sectors of the Russian economy and could act on those penalties next week.

The U.S. is preparing to deepen its own sanctions against Russian banks, as well as energy and defence companies, and could levy those penalties next week.

Obama spoke in an interview with CNBC.