TOP STORIES FOR THURSDAY, JULY 17, 2014

RUSSIA SANCTIONS

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin laments the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Russia, saying they will stalemate bilateral relations and hurt not only Russian but also American businesses. Russia's benchmark MICEX was down 2.6 percent in early afternoon trading while Russia's biggest oil company, Rosneft, was nearly 5 percent down. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 740 words, photos.

UKRAINE

KIEV, Ukraine — A spokesman for Ukraine's Security Council says an Air Force fighter jet has been struck and shot down by a missile fired from a Russian plane. Ukrainian officials have recently accused Russia's armed forces of being directly implicated in attacks on Ukrainian troops battling an insurgency near the Russian border. By Peter Leonard. SENT: 350 words, pictures. UPCOMING; 500 words by 1230 GMT.

FRANCE AFRICA SECURITY

PARIS — French troops are still in Mali a year and a half after they were sent there for a targeted operation against extremists. And instead of leaving, they're about to expand their mission to fighting terrorism from the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean. That's because the region's terrorist problem hasn't gone away: French troops merely dispersed Mali's al-Qaida-linked militants, and their potential ties with Nigerian militant group Boko Haram are of increasing concern to the French government. By Sylvie Corbet and Baba Ahmed. Sent 700 words, photos.

SWITZERLAND-EARNS NOVARTIS

GENEVA — Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG posted a 3 percent rise in second-quarter profits, reflecting what it described as solid growth and an increased focus on core products. By John Heilprin. Sent 300 words, photo.

EUROPE TOP JOBS

BRUSSELS — European Union leaders failed to agree on who should get the prestigious job as the 28-nation bloc's new foreign policy chief to succeed Catherine Ashton, who also chairs the international negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. By Juergen Baetz. Sent 400 words.

SWITZERLAND OBIT WINTER

GENEVA —Texas blues icon Johnny Winter, who rose to fame in the late 1960s and '70s with his energetic performances and recordings that included producing his childhood hero Muddy Waters, has died. He was 70.SENT 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 by 1145 GMT.