US, EU promise ‘scalpel’ sanctions on Russia for situation in Ukraine

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The United States blacklisted seven separatists in Ukraine on Friday and threatened “scalpel” sanctions on Russia’s financial, defense and high-tech industries as more Russian military material has flowed into Ukraine.The US moves respond to what American officials say is Russia’s recent increase in support to Ukrainian separatists, including the provision of Russian tanks and the preparation of more to cross into eastern Ukraine, reports Reuters.

The United States warned Friday it would not accept any use of Russian troops in Ukraine as it confirmed that Moscow had redeployed “significant” military forces near the border.

“We are monitoring the situation carefully. We will not accept the use, under any pretext, of any Russian military forces in eastern Ukraine,” said Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman.

A Russian defense ministry source told RBK news agency this week that troops were prepared to enter Ukraine’s insurgent regions in order to “put up barriers between the civilian population and the Ukrainian army.”

The US is “confident” that Moscow sent tanks and rocket launchers last week from the deployment site in southwest Russia into eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists are fighting to break away Kiev, Psaki said.

 

Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov has refuted allegations that Russia is moving troops towards the Ukrainian border. “There is no enlargement [of the military contingent] there. There is only a certain saturation of the border factor,” Ushakov told a press briefing on Friday. He said that was because the Russian administration was concerned about the border situation.

“The troops were pulled back and they will stay pulled back,” the presidential aide noted.

Moscow is somewhat bemused by suggestions that Russia has amassed forces along its border with Ukraine because Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an instruction to step up security on the border several weeks ago, said Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov.

“We are surprised by such statements about Russian troops allegedly amassed on the border with Ukraine. In this case, any build-up of troops is out of the question. Rather, there are measures to enhance security along the borders of the Russian Federation, measures that are being taken on the direct orders of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin,” Peskov said.

This instruction was not issued several days ago, he said.

“It was issued several weeks ago, which was announced earlier and, by the way, received a positive response from European leaders then,” the press secretary said. These measures are being taken in response to “the growing number of border trespass incidents, including by military hardware,” he said.

“As for the number of Armed Forces soldiers, it is determined based on the current needs in order to ensure the required level of security along the border,” Peskov said.

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