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US preparing sanctions against Ukraine

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The United States is preparing to impose financial sanctions on officials and protest leaders in Ukraine amid a political crisis in the country.

US congressional aides said Wednesday that US sanctions could be put in place quickly against Ukrainian officials or leaders of the protest movement if violence escalates, Reuters reports.

The aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they had discussed the sanction preparations with Obama administration officials, according to the report.

President Barack Obama referred to Ukraine in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, criticizing the political atmosphere there.

Washington has already revoked the visas of some Ukrainian officials.

Ukraine has been rocked by anti-government protests after President Viktor Yanukovych refrained from signing the Association Agreement with the European Union at the third Eastern Partnership Summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, on November 29, 2013. The deal could pave the way for Kiev to join the European bloc in future.

As the crisis is escalating, some American lawmakers have called for more US engagement.

“The situation in Ukraine remains very volatile and more needs to be done,” said US Representative Eliot Engel, the New York Democrat who sponsored the resolution. “We must remain engaged.”

Washington has also hailed a new Ukrainian parliamentary move to repeal an anti-protest law.

“We were encouraged that Ukraine’s parliament repealed the most egregious of the most anti-democratic laws. Today we want to urge President Yanukovich to sign the repeal laws,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a news briefing.

Protesters are occupying or blocking the offices of governors picked by Yanukovych in more than half of the nation’s 25 regions.


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