US Senate threatens Ukraine with sanctions

US senators approved a resolution on Tuesday that specifies stronger measures against Ukraine, including visa bans and asset freezes against individuals responsible for ordering or carrying out the violence against the protesters.

The US Senate also urged leaders in the United States and the European Union (EU) to continue working together actively to support a peaceful and democratic solution to the Ukraine crisis.

Ukrainian and Russian officials had previously accused Washington and EU of meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs, saying the US is trying to rally people against the Ukrainian government due to its strong ties to Russia.

Ukraine has been rocked with anti-government protests after President Viktor Yanukovych refrained from signing an association agreement with the EU at the third Eastern Partnership Summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, in November 2013.

European Union leaders blame Russia for Ukraine’s refusal to sign the deal, saying they will not allow Moscow to “veto” deals in Eastern Europe.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has in return accused Western countries of losing “their sense of reality” over Ukraine’s crisis, and also charged them with using blackmail to cut Kiev off from Russia.

In December 2013, Russia and Ukraine reached a strategic economic and trade agreement under which Kiev is given significant discounts on imported Russian gas and billions of dollars in credit.

Under the deal, Moscow will buy USD 15 billion worth of Ukrainian government bonds, reduce the price of gas sold to Ukraine by about one-third, and improve work conditions for Ukrainians working in Russia.

CAH/SS

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