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US imposes visa restrictions on Russians, Crimeans who ‘threaten Ukraine security’

Published time: March 06, 2014 12:45
Edited time: March 06, 2014 15:34
Pro-Russian activists wave a giant Russian flag near a statue of Lenin as they rally in Simferopol, the administrative center of Crimea, on March 1, 2014. (AFP Photo/Genya Savilov)

Pro-Russian activists wave a giant Russian flag near a statue of Lenin as they rally in Simferopol, the administrative center of Crimea, on March 1, 2014. (AFP Photo/Genya Savilov)

The US is imposing visa restrictions on Russian and Crimean officials and private citizens who they accuse of “threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity,” the White House says.

American President Barack Obama has signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against “individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine.”

The White House said in a statement that this order is “a flexible tool” that will allow it to sanction those who they consider “most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea.” The document does not preclude further steps in case the situation deteriorates, it added.

The announcement comes as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is getting ready to hold a referendum on March 16 on whether it wants to remain part of Ukraine or to join Russia.

The US, along with its European allies, has displayed support for Ukraine’s coup-appointed government and repeatedly criticized Moscow’s stance on the situation in the former Soviet Republic. Tensions between the two world powers intensified after top American officials threatened Moscow over its position on Ukraine and what the West calls Russia’s “invasion” in Crimea.

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia on Sunday that “all options are on the table,” echoing Obama’s statement last week about “costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

According to the Russian Foreign Minister, the US Secretary of State John Kerry told him that for now there are no blacklists of Russian officials who would face sanctions over Ukraine. Washington is continuing to aggravate the situation by threatening to impose sanctions, Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday after a meeting with Kerry in Rome. Such steps are not constructive, he added.

I drew the secretary of state’s attention to the non-stop aggravation of the situation, and the announcement about some lists of Russian officials who would be banned from entering the US. He assured that there are no such lists at the moment, but there is only an order [by the president],” Lavrov told journalists after the talks. That, however, does not change anything since that is “still a threat,” Lavrov added.

As of today, Moscow and the US have failed to reach an understanding on Ukraine, Lavrov said, summarizing the results of the meeting with Kerry.

We need to have a clear understanding of what our partners mean when proposing to set up some international mechanism and what its composition will be,” Lavrov said. Russia considers it is most important to “respect” the February-21 EU-brokered agreement to settle the crisis. Another crucial aspect is that any process must be supported by all Ukrainian regions, he said.“First of all in this respect we are worried about Crimea and South-eastern regions,” Lavrov said.

The second most crucial aspect is that any process that might be supported must be based on the clearly voiced agreement by all Ukrainian regions,” Lavrov said.

Under the pretext of “deterring Russian aggression” in Ukraine, the Pentagon announced its plans to send several additional fighter jets for NATO air patrols over the Baltic states and, also expand aviation training in Poland.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to heap further pressure on Moscow, NATO announced on Wednesday a full review of its cooperation with Russia and said that it would suspend planning for a joint mission linked to the Syrian chemical weapons. Moscow slammed the move as an application of “Cold War” stereotypes and double standards.

The Crimean authorities have denounced the self-proclaimed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The Crimea authorities have asked Russia to provide assistance to ensure peace and order in the region.

Facts you need to know about Crimea and why it is in turmoil

Many units within the national armed forces have started joining up with the pro-Russian Crimean government and the locals who organized self-defense against right-wing radicals. Recently, the commander of the Ukrainian navy and most of the military stationed in the peninsula took new oaths.

Under the Russian-Ukrainian Partition Treaty determining the fate of the military bases and vessels in Crimea – signed in 1997 and prolonged in 2010 - Russia is allowed to have up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems (with a caliber smaller than 100 mm), 132 armored vehicles, and 22 military planes, on the peninsula’s territory. The Russian Black Sea fleet is allowed to stay in Crimea until 2042.Moscow annually writes off $97.75 million of Kiev’s debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters and radio frequencies, and to compensate for the Black Sea Fleet’s environmental impact.

Comments (137)

 

rais 14.03.2014 12:08

Sanctions or whatever you might call it..just proceed with it...to tell you the truth we were looking for an occasion to be disconnect with this block of the thugs(international plunders).to freeze assets and so on...where it will take them..no where.how many assets of Africans leaders they have seized in the past...where are they currently...? they are main problem they can not read Putin like they did with Mikhael Gorbatchev...Putin came at the right time to do the right thing for the benefit of those who has been afflicted by these descendants of evil worshipers.They are so quick for trouble and to slow for peace.

 

comixarma 07.03.2014 18:34

Yet another US regime change operation in another sovreign country.

Why has the US already signed an agreement to install more missles in Ukraine pointing at Russia? If anyone believes the ridiculous US excuse that the missiles are to protect against Iran, they've been totally dumbed down to the brain cell of a Big Mac. The bigger goal is to contain Russia, one of the three biggest threats with China and Iran challenging the USA's "full spectrum dominance."

 

Dartagnan 07.03.2014 07:50

Obama is offering rights to ethnic Russians living in Ukraine. How could America protect Russian citizens while protecting at the same time the fascist junta in Kiev (at least 6 ministers and members of the national security council are members of the national-socialist party of Ukraine (alias Svoboda) and Right sector. In Croatia, which is a protégé and a member state of EU the serb cirylic scripture is banned, and the Serbs have no cultural rights except to convert to catholicism. That's how the West protect undesirable minorities.

View all comments (137)
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