Russia says EU 'against peace' as US backs new sanctions

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the European Union has "made its choice against" a peace process in Ukraine by approving tougher sanctions against Russia.

President Barack Obama said the United States will join the EU in imposing sanctions on Russia's financial, energy and defence sectors after Moscow sent troops into eastern Ukraine last month.

David Cameron has spoken to European leaders and agreed to push ahead with the sanctions by the end of the week, his spokesman has confirmed.

After the announcement the Russian rouble reached a new historic low against the dollar.

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Australia steps up Nato partnership as crises grow

Australia will step up its partnership with Nato as the country pursues a bigger role in combating global crises, from Ukraine to Iraq and Syria.

Although Australia is not a member of Nato its troops fought alongside the coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Foreign Minister Julie Bishop stressed was the basis for an expanded partnership in current and future conflicts.

Local residents walk past a crater caused by shelling in the village of Spartak near Donetsk. Credit: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Bishop told parliament, "Tomorrow the defence minister and I will travel to Wales to attend the Nato summit and I can confirm that Australia will be accepting a formal invitation to become what is called an enhanced partner."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is due to host Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders at a G20 summit in November.

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