Ukraine Separatists Slapped With Sanctions By US As Turmoil Persists

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Obama administration has imposed sanctions on pro-Russian separatist leaders in Ukraine for refusing to cede to the Kiev government.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, background left, inspects a military base in Donetsk.

These leaders include self-proclaimed rebel mayors, governors and commanders in chief of cities under siege.

The sanctions came as US officials renewed accusations that Russia is providing separatists with tanks and heavy weaponry and as Ukraine's president announced a unilateral ceasefire that Washington urged Moscow to support.

The penalties on seven separatists are a signal that the US will continue to punish those it holds responsible for instability in Ukraine, officials said.

It is hoped they will show the West is still prepared to slap tougher sanctions on Russia's economic sectors to punish it for stoking unrest in Ukraine, should Moscow not take steps to de-escalate the crisis.

The White House welcomed Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko's ceasefire announcement even as it denounced Russia for supplying separatists with military gear.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest called reports of a Russian military buildup near the Ukraine border “troubling” and dismissed explanations from the Kremlin that the movement of the forces was related to border security.

“We will not accept any use of Russian military forces, under any pretext, in eastern Ukraine,” Earnest said.

He also slammed Russian officials for making what he said were false claims about the Ukrainian government being responsible for poor human rights conditions in eastern Ukraine.

“We see these statements for what they are: an attempt to create pretext for further illegal Russia intervention in Ukraine,” he said.

“Responsibility for the deterioration in the human rights situation in Ukraine lies with the armed separatists who are targeting the population, and their backers in Russia.” 

President Barack Obama spoke by phone on Friday to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been a key interlocutor with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and with French President Francois Hollande.

The White House said Russia's failure to take immediate steps to calm tensions would result in further penalties from the US and the European Union — a threat the West has been making for months.

Washington last week accused Russia of sending tanks and rocket launchers to the separatists and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday that the US believes Russia is preparing to send more tanks and artillery from southwest Russia. 

Psaki would not say if the provision of the equipment to the separatists would be a trigger for additional sanctions.

Since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March, the US has imposed sanctions against 71 individuals and entities involved.

The European Union has taken similar steps and US and EU officials will meet next week to discuss the possibility of wider sanctions.

The sanctions imposed yesterday freeze any assets that the seven separatists have in the US, and prohibit American firms or businesses from dealing with them.

It is a relatively limited blow against the separatists but shows the US is ready to do more if tensions ratchet back up.

Last month, in an apparent attempt to ease tensions, Putin had pulled back many of his estimated 40,000 Russian troops massed along the border.

They appear to have returned over the last week — even as Putin and Poroshenko discussed the newly elected Ukrainian president’s plan for a unilateral ceasefire and Putin said he was resisted rebel calls for help.

Source: AP


Igor Skakovsky said…
In case when Ukrainian Central Bank prints some of its own money for instance USD1billion, all of this money must be distributed in the form of a loan or multiple loans to domestic borrowers. For example this loans could be distributed between small business performing government contracts and used for modern equipment build in Ukraine. (If such exist) Ukraine need machines to build modern machines and equipment.
Igor Skakovsky said…
At this difficult economically period for Ukraine any one or any country who call them self a friend of Ukraine must do some thing generous. For instance Ukraine owed to lets say Germany USD3billion, Germany should illuminate the interest which attached to it and simply right it off. Each such friendly country must do that, if not with full amount of a debt, than at list to 50% of it.
As far as I remember USD3billion of Poland's total debt to USA was completely written off, principal and interest all together. That is a true friendship.
Igor Skakovsky said…
For the next 10-15years Ukrainian National Goal must be, is to get read off IMF dependents for 100%. Instead Ukraine must become a credit reliable country and use the National bond system to borrow money abroad. In which case other country must trust enough in Ukrainian system to buy its National bond. Ukrainian people must never again be enslaved by any other nation, group of nations or by its own oligarchs. (In the case of its own oligarchs, some level of slavery will always exist and it is OK, as long as, more than 50% of Ukrainian population would have a dignified existence.