The European Union has adopted tighter restrictions on European investment in Crimea, targeting Russian oil and gas exploration and tourism.
The new restrictions will take effect on Saturday, an official said, and come shortly before leaders discuss the Ukraine crisis and relations with Russia at a summit in Brussels.
Vladimir Putin has accused Nato countries of "building a new Berlin wall" and blamed other nations for the current situation in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian President said Moscow was ready to mediate in the crisis in a bid to resolve it politically, rather than militarily.
When asked by a Ukrainian journalist how many Russian soldiers had been sent into the region, Putin denied sending any - claiming any that went did so of their own volition.
He also said the current economic crisis in Russia was not a penalty for its involvement in Crimea, claiming sanctions were an attempt to turn Russia from a bear with "claws" into a stuffed animal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country's uncertain economic situation has been provoked by "external factors", and believes it may take two years for the country to return to growth.
Speaking at a televised question and answer session in Moscow, he said he believes the country's currency, the rouble - which has recently been in freefall - will inevitably recover.
He also said he was confident Russia had sufficient currency reserves to deal with the uncertainty and said the central bank and government were taking adequate measures.
Putin added the Central Bank's current interest rate of 17% will not last throughout the currency's crisis.
The attack on an army-run school in Peshawar was so severe it "shocked" everyone, not just those with relatives in Pakistan, a Bradford councillor has told Good Morning Britain.
Khadim Hussain said Brits "irrespective of what colour or creed they are" would be sickened by the Taliban attack, which killed 141 people, most of them children.
A policeman has been killed and two others injured in a suicide bomb blast on the outskirts of Afghanistan captial Kabul.
Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said a patrol car was sent to a village near the airport after reports a bomber was trying to enter the city in a car laden with explosives.
But they were able to detonate the bombs before the officers could stop them.
Thee Cuban intelligence agents have been given heroes' welcomes as they landed back in their homeland after 16 years in prison in the US.
The men were released as part of a prisoner swap between the two countries, which heralded the start of a major policy shift to normalise relations after more than 50 years of hostility.
Gerardo Hernandez, aged 49, Antonio Guerrero, 56, and 51-year-old Ramon Labañino were greeted by Cuban President Raul Castro and throngs of family, friends and fans as they disembarked at Jose Marti International Airport.
The men - together with two others already released - are jointly referred to as the 'Cuban Five', and are celebrated as anti-terrorist heroes for their work spying on extremist Cuban exile groups in Florida.
Shops in Moscow were literally stripped bare as Russians try to offload their roubles before they become next to worthless.
The collapse of the currency could also have serious implications for Vladimir Putin's political position, according to one of the country's opposition leaders.
ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports from Moscow.
A prisoner exchange and the announcement of a re-established US embassy in Havana mark a momentous turn in US-Cuban relations.
But some in America are distinctly unhappy at President Obama's decision to reach out to the communist state.
ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore reports.
More is now known about the Pakistani Taliban group who carried out the massacre in Peshawar and the man who ordered it.
Maulana Fazlullah also ordered the school attack in which Malala Yousefzai, almost lost her life.
ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery reports