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US readies more sanctions on Russia

Public Policy

The United States said on Friday it was prepared to impose further sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, where armed pro-Moscow separatists seized a bus carrying international mediators, escalating the two-month-old crisis.

The separatist self-declared mayor of Slaviansk told Reuters the mediators were being held because they were believed to have a spy amongst them from the pro-Western government in Kiev.

“People who come here as observers bringing with them a real spy: it’s not appropriate,” Vyacheslav Ponomaryov said in front of the seized security service building where, according to the Ukrainian government, the observers were being detained.

Moscow denies allegations it is directing the separatists, who have taken control of large parts of eastern Ukraine over the past three weeks.

But the White House said U.S. President Barack Obama and European allies all felt that Russia had escalated tension in the region, where the rebels have refused to leave official buildings they have occupied.

Britain and Germany agreed further sanctions were in order, building on targeted U.S. and European sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian individuals following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. But none of the three countries gave any details of what the sanctions might be, or when they might be enacted.

The standoff has already led to heavy capital flight from Russia, prompting credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s to cut the country’s ratings on Friday. That forced the central bank to raise its key interest rate to reverse a drop in the ruble.

The detention of the mediators, who are working for the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), will heighten Western unease about lawlessness and arbitrary rule in separatist-held parts of eastern Ukraine.

“Extremely concerned with OSCE inspectors being abducted in Eastern Ukraine. Including one Swede. They must be released immediately,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on his Twitter account.


Ukraine sent in troops to try dislodge the separatists for the first time on Thursday, killing up to five rebels around Slaviansk in what it said was a response to the kidnapping and torture of a politician found dead on Saturday.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, accused authorities in Kiev of waging “war on their own people”.

“This is a bloody crime, and those who pushed the army to do that will pay, I am sure, and will face justice,” Lavrov said.

The Kremlin says it has the right to defend Russian-speakers anywhere if they are under threat and has deployed extra troops on the border with Ukraine, which NATO says number up to 40,000.

They began military exercises on Thursday and Ukraine said they had approached to within 1 km (1,100 yards) of its border and that it would treat any incursion as an invasion.

Ukrainian special forces launched a second phase of their operation on Friday by mounting a full blockade of Slaviansk, the rebels’ military stronghold, a presidential official said.

One of its military helicopters was hit by rocket fire and exploded while on the ground at an airport near the city, the Defence Ministry said.


Police were carrying out stringent checks on vehicles on the outskirts of Slaviansk, but did not seem to be preventing movement. In the main square, people strolled around on Friday evening and parents watched their children play.

“We have heard they are surrounding us but there is nothing to be afraid of. The truth will win,” shop employee Tetyana, who declined to give her surname, said.

Pro-Western leaders in Kiev, who took power in February after Moscow-ally President Viktor Yanukovich fled following mass protests against him, say they fear Russia will try to take over eastern Ukraine following its annexation of Crimea.

Russian troops seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea soon after Yanukovich fled. Moscow denies interfering in eastern Ukraine, as it did in Crimea before admitting its forces had gone in.

The White House statement came after Obama pressed four European leaders on the need for more robust action against Russia. Europe is reluctant to impose tough sanctions due to its reliance on Russian gas and trade ties with Moscow.

“The president noted that the United States is prepared to impose targeted sanctions to respond to Russia’s latest actions,” it said.

“The leaders agreed to work closely together, and through the G7 and European Union, to coordinate additional steps to impose costs on Russia.”

Britain agreed the current sanctions would need to be extended given what it said was Russia’s refusal to support an international peace agreement that it signed up to last week under which all sides agreed to work to disarm illegal groups.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the leaders would have to react. “Because of the lack of progress we will have to contemplate further sanctions,” she said before the call.

France said sanctions had been discussed and the leaders had called for a “speedy reaction” to the crisis from leading industrial nations. The president’s office said later it expected a G7 statement in the next few days. Italy said the leaders had agreed on the situation but gave no details.

“The leaders underscored that Russia could still choose a peaceful resolution to the crisis, including by implementing the Geneva accord,” the White House statement said.


Lavrov said Moscow was committed to implementing the Geneva agreement but accused Washington of distorting it with “one-sided demands”. However, Russia’s Defence Ministry said it was ready for “unbiased and constructive” talks with the United States to stabilize the situation.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Russia was using propaganda to hide what it was trying to do in eastern Ukraine – destabilize the region and undermine next month’s Ukrainian presidential elections – and decried its “threatening movement” of troops up to Ukraine’s border.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has scoffed at the sanctions so far imposed, which have been limited to travel bans and overseas assets freezes on individuals.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said Russia wanted to start World War Three by occupying the country and creating a conflict that would spread to the rest of Europe.

Seven people were injured overnight at a pro-Ukrainian checkpoint near the Black Sea port of Odessa when an explosive device blew up, police said on Friday.

Residents have built several such checkpoints near the town aimed at stopping pro-Russian separatists entering from Moldova’s breakaway territory of Transdniestria.

NATO warned last month of a possible Russian military grab for Transdniestria following its annexation of Crimea.


16 Comments on "US readies more sanctions on Russia"

  1. J-Gav on Fri, 25th Apr 2014 3:34 pm 

    Stupid is as stupid does.

  2. Arthur on Fri, 25th Apr 2014 3:39 pm 

    Just to put matters in perspective…

    Trade with Russia in billion of euro:

    EU: 268
    China: 64
    Ukraine: 24
    USA: 19


    Sanctions would only hurt the EU and nobody else.

  3. DC on Fri, 25th Apr 2014 5:25 pm 

    Of course the u$’s illegal sanctions will hurt the EU Arthur. That is by design after all. Amerikans are masters at getting other people to pay the costs of maintaining amerikan hegemony. In fact, sanctioning ‘Russia’ kills two with one stone for the u$. It will hurt both Russia(or is supposed to) AND it will damage the EU economically. Just like both Gulf Wars and amerikas ongoing efforts to destabilize the ME are hurting the EU now. Amerika has literally, nothing to lose and everything to gain with its illegal ‘sanctions’.

  4. Makati1 on Fri, 25th Apr 2014 7:30 pm 

    From my viewpoint, I see any real sanctions destroying the EU economy. I see Russia possibly dumping their dollar holdings and starting a world wide panic, and/or freezing the US and NATO assets in Russia. More ‘sanctions’ will only drive Russia more East and into a more powerful alliance with China. The US cannot even get up to the space station without the Russian taxi.

    But threats are not actions and maybe the EU countries will stand up to the US Mafia and just say no? Now wouldn’t that be a shock to the Empire?

  5. Arthur on Sat, 26th Apr 2014 1:07 am 

    You should read the comments in German MSM like der Spiegel. Most are blasting the policies of the west and the role the media play. There are signs that the MSM are panicking.

  6. Makati1 on Sat, 26th Apr 2014 8:09 am 

    FYI: From a ZeroHedge article:

    “… Russian presidential adviser Sergei Glazyev proposed plan of 15 measures to protect country’s economy if sanctions applied, Vedomosti newspaper reports, citing Glazyev’s letter to Finance Ministry. According to Vedomosti as Bloomberg reported, Glazyev proposed:

    Russia should withdraw all assets, accounts in dollars, euros from NATO countries to neutral ones
    Russia should start selling NATO member sovereign bonds before Russia’s foreign-currency accounts are frozen
    Central bank should reduce dollar assets, sell sovereign bonds of countries that support sanctions
    Russia should limit commercial banks’ FX assets to prevent speculation on ruble, capital outflows
    Central bank should increase money supply so that state cos., banks may refinance foreign loans
    Russia should use national currencies in trade with customs Union members, other non-dollar, non-euro partners …”

    Obama’s move on the chessboard … or is he playing checkers?

  7. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sat, 26th Apr 2014 9:25 am 

    Wow, Mak is checking out a US MSM propaganda outlet “Zero Hedge”. Just the other day Mak, you decried them as tools of the US propaganda machine. I guess you use them as necessary to enhance you political ideologue message.

    Russia is wishful thinking if they believe their moves will do anything but destabilize them and the global economy. This includes the US and Europe to some extent. It will do much more to Russia and the third world economically. The issues for Russia is they are a resources driven oligarch run banana republic. If they want to have an effect these economic tool are impotent. Russia’s tool with effect is their energy resources. Yet, this is a poison pill for them because they have no other choice then to rely on financing to cover their imports and investments to keep their economy going. They need the energy earnings to get financing for their economy. They have not made the necessary changes to their economy to rely on anything other than the global markets. Talk as they will it is nothing more than bluster. The west can do without Russian economic activity but it can’t do without Russian energy without severe consequences. The energy tool is very dangerous to “all” and they know it. Energy is a global commodity effected by global events that affect all countries. Even gas can destabilizing the energy markets by creating other consequences in other energy markets. I imagine it will not be used unless the situation spirals out of control. This could be the end of the global economic system as we know it. If these actions from both sides of this conflict continue the destabilization of an already shaky financial system could initiate collapse for all.

  8. GregT on Sat, 26th Apr 2014 10:46 am 

    “This could be the end of the global economic system as we know it. If these actions from both sides of this conflict continue the destabilization of an already shaky financial system could initiate collapse for all.”

    What better way to initiate a one world banking system? Peace and security for all.

  9. Boat on Sat, 26th Apr 2014 11:22 am 

    Of course the u$’s illegal sanctions will hurt the EU Arthur.
    There is nothing illegal against any sanction. Nations either cooperate together for a similar interest or they don’t. When it comes to Russia oil deals with Exxon and BP might or might be at stake. Was it really worth it for Crimea?

  10. Arthur on Sat, 26th Apr 2014 12:40 pm 

    The issues for Russia is they are a resources driven oligarch run banana republic.

    They are currently (with China) the only ones able to bring a man into orbit.

    Not bad for a banana republic.

    Russia could turn it’s back to Europe and ‘go Eurasian’. There are enough customers for their oil and gas.

  11. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sat, 26th Apr 2014 1:04 pm 

    Art, a waste of money for two basket case economies that have massive social and wealth inequality issues. China especially has no business being in space with how many millions in poverty. For that matter considering the predicaments global society is facing should any nation be devoting funds to space which is something that produces so little for so few. Nothing but human hubris in my view.

  12. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sat, 26th Apr 2014 1:08 pm 

    Boat said – There is nothing illegal against any sanction. Nations either cooperate together for a similar interest or they don’t.

    Exactly my thoughts Boat but DC has ideologue issues with the US. Everything American is illegal per DC and Makati.

  13. DC on Sat, 26th Apr 2014 4:11 pm 

    When you’re referring to basket case economies with massive social and wealth inequalities, you DO realize your describing amerika right Davy?

    Is peddling the Russia\China as basket case\banana republic and attempt at irony?, or just displaying how ill-informed you are? Last time I looked, neither of those 2 nations had a monopoly on poverty or wealth inequality. No one here is defending wealth or income inequality in either Russia or China. I am most of us so-called ‘ideologues'(your term) would welcome improvements on that issue in both those nations. And whether you like it or not Davey, the uS routinely flaunts international law and agreements, or simply refuses to acknowledge their existence altogether. Preferring instead only to obey the forms of international law when it suits it-and discards them or seeks to circumvent them when it does not. This ‘fact’ of amerikas behaviors is easily verified, and is not an ideological issue.

    As for the real issue, of the legality of ‘sanctions’, again, you clearly subscribe to the idea of might makes right when it comes to your basket-case empire. ‘Sanctions’ are just a polite way of saying ‘economic warfare’. And economic warfare is a polite way of saying ‘war’.And aggressive war(as practiced by the uS both in theory and practice), is by common agreement, not legal. The united snakes tries to give ‘sanctions’ a veneer of legitimacy and legality, in fact, it has neither. Aside from the u$(and its puppet states, tell me davey, who else is running a sanctions regime like the u$? Contrary to your endless assertions, this not an ideological position.

    In 1996 a group submitted this to the UN commission on human rights as part of its appeal against sanctions. Its not a legal document of course, its just what it is-but its more than clear the idea of sanctions being of dubious legality is not something I alone, or Mak even, just dreamed up yesterday. I will highlight this point they raised:

    Economic sanctions — and in particular comprehensive economic sanctions — are a form of collective punishment that is in total contradiction to the basic principles of justice and human rights. The right to life, the right to adequate nourishment and health care are inalienable rights that form part of the jus cogens of general international law. Those rights are the basis of international legality and of the legitimacy of the United Nations Charter as well.

    Just for a laugh, please foward your position that China has no right being in space until they rectify poverty to your satisfaction. Send the Chinese embassy and email-I am sure they would love to hear form you on this matter. While your doing that, you email your own worthless representatives that your own govt has no business spending trillions of dollars on war and subversion overseas and Wall St Bankers while bridges in the ‘homeland’ collapse, and over 50% of amerikans are too ill-educated to locate their own country on a map.

  14. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sat, 26th Apr 2014 9:12 pm 

    Damn Deec, got your attention! Well where does one start with a long retort. I guess the difference between us is I regularly criticize the US and the US leadership. I also criticize the basket case economies. The difference with you Deec and Mak is “all” you do is criticize the US and rarely to never the basket case economies. I am American and I welcome thoughtful, constructive, and objective criticism. You fail on all those accounts Deec. You and Mak are hell bent on demonizing the US and by extension me. The substance of your retort is not balanced so I find no reason to respond to individual points. You have some points that have merit with some truth but the way you use these points deec is purely political, ideologue and propagandist. In my book that disqualifies you from rational balanced fact discovery. So in reality you are bending the truth to fit your narrow aims. There are those here that have mentioned just ignoring you, Mak, and a few others that are rabid anti-American. I am not going to back down. I agree you have a right to your opinion and your goals. I have a right to defend the truth about my country. I feel that I am above you in this regard because I engage in critical discussions on the US and the West. But I am not going to let slide the typical Mak and Deec show of blasting America and talking up the basket case countries. I respect someone like Arthur who is apt to bash the US but he will defend the US when it is deserving. Anyway deec, thanks for your thoughts and emotions. I enjoy the competitive responses. I will always be humble in my arrogance meaning I accept criticism where it is do and welcome criticism.

  15. Arthur on Sun, 27th Apr 2014 4:38 am 

    You and Mak are hell bent on demonizing the US and by extension me.

    WRONG. Why would you identify yourself with the actions of the US government? Every US right winger/conservative (and you no doubt are one) has issues with the US government. The greatest opponents of the US government these days are libertarians, paleo-conservatives, Paul Craig Roberts, Pat Buchanan, Alex Jones types… all on the American constitutionalist right. You are confusing healthy patriotism (love for people, towns, landscapes, anthem, soccer team) with loyalty to the Washington bunch, that has only one aim: destroy old America and in between use the grand resources of America to establish a world empire, which is not in your conservative interest. Are you ready for Bavarian enclave Hermann/Missouri with 40% imported Somali’s? Are you ready for American post-Constitutionslist bolshevism, organized by neocons (neo-Trotzkyites, really)? Maybe it is not yet entirely clear for people living in ‘fly-over country’, but the old America is gone. It is broken beyond repair.

    Makati, DC, me, Russians, Chinese, are *NOT* your enemy. Washington is, because it has been taken over for a century now by an ‘straussian elite’, hostile to you and everything European.

  16. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sun, 27th Apr 2014 7:52 am 

    Art, I want to agree with your ideas. Yet, I am among the most vocal of critics of the side of America you have described. Dc, Mak, and some others go further than this. Their criticism is a hatred for “All” that is American. “EVERYTHING” then there is the promo of their poster girls Brics and any other country that is challenging the US. They are also highly critical of Europe. In my mind this disqualifies them from reason and presuit of the truth. my acceptance of some of their points drops to nill because of the filth they interject. Some of their points are valid and are important. It is the delivery system that is sick with hatred, demonization, and a compulsion to side with political, ideologue, propagandist expressions. This clouds the truth. They are hell bent on the uplifting of the sick Bric economies as the new world dominating group. This is utter “bullshit”. All economies are sick now as part of a sick global system. All economies and countries have chosen a route of debt and deficit spending. They have chosen conflict and self-interest over what is best for the group. So art, I agree with your points but disagree with your reading of my meaning. I join you in your fight against the wrongs of America. But I am not going to promote a bunch of basket case economies and groups that Deec and Mak show sport. They are choosing sides instead of being objective.

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