The United States also identified several entities it said were subsidiaries of VEB and Rosneft, the Russian state development bank and flagship oil giant, which were sanctioned past year.

A Ukrainian helicopter pilot, accused of involvement in the killing of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine, has appeared in court in Russia.

Speaking at a news conference in Moscow, Novikov said he had phone billing data showing that she had already been detained by the separatist insurgents when the journalists were killed.

Preliminary hearings in the case of Nadia Savchenko, 34, who has become a symbol of resistance in Ukraine to Russian support for separatists in the east, are scheduled for Thursday in the Rostov region of southern Russia.

“Going to Donetsk. Taking a flak jacket with me”, one of Savchenko’s lawyers, Mark Feigin, said on Twitter.

More than 6,500 people have been killed since the fighting broke out in an April previous year.

Donetsk has no jail and Savchenko had to be transported to the court from Novocherkassk, a city almost two hours away by auto.

“And one of the accusations against her is ‘illegal crossing of the Russian border.'”.

Ukrainian and Western politicians have appealed to Moscow to free Savchenko. She began an 83-day hunger strike in December 2014.

Russian justice denied Savchenko a trial by jury, which statistically is more likely to deliver a not guilty verdict.

“Today’s action underscores our resolve to maintain pressure on Russian Federation for violating the worldwide law and fueling the conflict in eastern Ukraine“, Acting OFAC Director John Smith said in a statement. Last October she was elected in absentia to parliament, and later was nominated to represent Ukraine at PACE – the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

“According to the billing of Savchenko’s two telephones, the first telephone was registered at the centre of Luhansk at 10.44 hrs”, Novikov said.

“We’ll be working on the assumption that the sentence has already been written and it’s the harshest possible”.

In an interview with a Ukrainian newspaper in 2009, she said she could go without sleep for five days and had no problem sharing a room at night “with 25 guys”.

State security chief Vasyl Hrytsak told reporters that Vladimir Starkov, 37, from Russia’s Kirov region, had admitted immediately he was a serving soldier in the Russian armed forces after he was stopped in a truck at a checkpoint 22 km outside the separatist-held city of Donetsk.