KIEV, Ukraine — The mayor of Ukraine's second-largest city was shot in the back and pro-Russia insurgents seized more government buildings Monday as the U.S hit Russia with more sanctions for allegedly fomenting the unrest in eastern Ukraine.
Armed insurgents tacitly backed by Moscow are seeking more autonomy in the region — possibly even independence or annexation with Russia. Ukraine's acting government and the West have accused Russia of orchestrating the unrest, which they fear Moscow could use as a pretext for an invasion.
In a bid to ratchet up the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Barack Obama's government levied new sanctions on seven Russian officials and 17 companies with links to Putin's inner circle. The U.S. also revoked licenses for some high-tech items that could be used by the Russian military.
In Brussels, the European Union moved Monday to add 15 more officials to its Russian sanctions list to protest Moscow's meddling in Ukraine. That decision, reached by the ambassadors to the EU's 28 nations, was being formally confirmed by the EU's governments and was expected within hours, officials told The Associated Press.
Hennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv, was shot in the back Monday morning while cycling on the outskirts of the city and underwent surgery, city hall said. He was reported to be in "grave, but stable" condition.
Officials have not commented on who could be behind the attack — and Kernes was a man who could have angered both sides.
Kernes was a staunch opponent of the pro-West Maidan movement that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February and was widely viewed as the organizer who sent activists to Kiev from eastern Ukraine to harass those demonstrators.
But he has since softened his stance toward the new Kiev government. At a meeting of eastern Ukrainian leaders and acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk earlier this month, Kernes insisted he does not support the pro-Russia insurgents and backed a united Ukraine.