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Sanctions Loom as U.S. Condemns Russian Troops

Published: March 13, 2014 (Issue # 1801)



  • People protesting against Russia's intervention in Crimea.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. and European Union moved closer to imposing sanctions on Russia on Wednesday, as a discrepancy in a U.S. interpretation of President Vladimir Putin's rhetoric about the Ukrainian crisis opened itself up to Russian attacks.

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding resolution on Tuesday that condemned the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine and called for sanctions on Russia, including its exclusion from the Group of Eight.

The resolution, echoing last week's bill supporting $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, urged the administration of President Barack Obama to work with “European allies and other countries to impose visa, financial, trade and other sanctions on senior Russian Federation officials, majority state-owned banks and commercial organizations, and other state agencies, as appropriate.”

Interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk was to meet with Obama and the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee later Wednesday, an exchange that reinforces the West's allegiance to the new Ukrainian government.

But with the U.S. set to impose sanctions on Russia as early as next week, a U.S. State Department exposé titled “President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims About Ukraine” contains a discrepancy that could be used by Russian authorities to berate the U.S. on its approach to the conflict.

The State Department's breakdown of Putin's “false claims” on Ukraine says the terms of the Feb. 21 agreement gave Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych “24 hours” to sign a bill to return Ukraine to its 2004 Constitution. But the actual agreement gave Yanukovych 48 hours.

“Yanukovych refused to keep his end of the bargain,” the State Department says in the statement published on its website on March 5.

But the Ukrainian parliament, which voted to oust Yanukovych on Feb. 22 — only 24 hours later — did not give him the full 48 hours to fulfill this term of the agreement.

This discrepancy in the State Department's analysis could give credence to Russia's insistence that the opposition failed to implement the Feb. 21 agreement with Yanukovych, further bolstering its claim that Yanukovych's ouster and the current government in Kiev are illegitimate.

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