The U.S. State Department imposed a ban on visas and a freezing of U.S. assets for officials and other individuals considered to have threatened the territory of Ukraine, the White House announced Thursday.
According to a statement issued by Jay Carnay, the White House spokesman, the ban is significant because it will apply to both Russian and Ukrainian citizens who are responsible “responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."
President Obama also issued an executive order that provides a legal basis for imposing penalties on such "individuals and entities" who have undermined the territory of Ukraine, misappropriated Ukraine’s assets or have asserted authority over parts of Ukraine without the approval of the Ukrainian government.
The White House said the measures were a response to Russia’s “ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, a reference to its intervention in the southern peninsula of Crimea.
The ban “is a flexible tool that will allow us to sanction those who are most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea, and does not preclude further steps should the situation deteriorate,” the White House statement said.
The penalties could involve the freezing of U.S. assets of such people or entities, as well as a ban on travel to the U.S. and doing business with Americans.
These measures are in addition to visa restrictions that have already been imposed on parties considered responsible for causing political oppression and human rights abuse in Ukraine territory.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with Russian foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov on Thursday.
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