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US intensifies sanctions to punish Russia

Barack Obama said that the action comes after Russia’s latest attempts to destabilise Ukraine.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Image: Peter Macdiarmid

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA said today that the United States would intensify sanctions in the defense, finance and energy sectors to punish Russia over its “illegal actions” in Ukraine.

The move was coordinated with the European Union, which earlier also agreed to slap a new round of sanctions on Moscow. Obama said in a statement the move would worsen the Kremlin’s deepening political and economic isolation.

Destablising Ukraine

“We are implementing these new measures in light of Russia’s actions to further destabilise Ukraine over the last month, including through the presence of heavily armed Russian forces in eastern Ukraine,” Obama said.

Obama said that Washington was closely watching the implementation of a ceasefire deal agreed between Moscow and Ukraine, but had “yet to see conclusive evidence that Russia has ceased its efforts to destabilize Ukraine.”

Obama said that his administration would lay out the details of the new sanctions on Friday but added that they would exact costs on those close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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The US president also offered Moscow a simple choice — step back in Ukraine and get sanctions relief or deepen the faceoff with the West.

“If Russia fully implements its commitments, these sanctions can be rolled back,” Obama said.

If, instead, Russia continues its aggressive actions and violations of international law, the costs will continue to rise.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: Russian troops are streaming out of Ukraine>

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