Ukraine Russia MH17
An armed pro-Russian separatist gestures to reporters at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Grabovo, Donetsk region. Reuters

The European Union has agreed to pass fresh sanctions against Russia targeting its oil and defence sectors as well as sensitive technology in protest at the country's role in the Ukraine conflict, according to Reuters news agency.

A full statement outlining the range of the new sanctions is expected on Wednesday.

European leaders have accused Russia of backing separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine and providing them with heavy weaponry.

The downing of MH17 over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, in which 298 people were killed, appears to have been the tipping point for the EU.

Western leaders have accused the separatist rebels of shooting down the plane with a Russian-supplied missile.

EU leaders had previously shown reluctance to impose wider sanctions on Russia in light of the extensive economic cooperation between the Europe and Moscow.