U.S. considers hitting Putin with sanctions

U.S. State Department spokeswoman said it was important to lay out consequences to Putin over the Ukraine crisis

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia on Tuesday that it faces “more costs” if it refuses to pull back troops massed along Ukraine’s border and stop fuelling separatist unrest in the east.

“More provocative behavior will lead to more costs and greater isolation,” Biden told a news conference in Kiev.

U.S. sanctions on a range of Russian officials could be imposed over the Ukraine crisis, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday.


In a Twitter interview, Psaki was asked whether the United States was considering the possibility of hitting Russian President Vladimir Putin personally with sanctions, Psaki replied: “Range of officials under consideration. Plenty to sanction before we would discuss President #Putin.”

Earlier, in response to a question over whether the prospect of imposing sanctions on individuals, companies and business sectors was effective, Psaki replied: “Yes. Impt (important) to lay out consequences. U.S. able to sanction people, companies, and sectors. Goal not sanctions. Goal de-escalation.”

In a telephone call with his Russian counterpart, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday urged Russia to take concrete steps to help implement the agreement reached in Geneva last week, Psaki said.

The steps include publicly calling on pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to vacate occupied buildings and checkpoints, accept an amnesty and address their grievances politically, Psaki added

“If they don’t take steps in the coming days, there’ll be consequences,” she said. “Obviously, we would have to make a decision in the matter of - in a matter of days - if there are going to be consequences for inaction.”

The Geneva agreement calls for occupied buildings to be vacated under the auspices of envoys from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Psaki said there are a series of steps outlined in the agreement “and that’s what we’re looking for.”

“If there’s no progress, we remain prepared, along with our European and G-7 partners, to impose additional costs. So there’ll need to be decisions made in a matter of days,” she added.

(With Reuters)

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