US sanctions four Ukrainians accused of working for Russia | Conflict News

The Biden administration is targeting Ukrainian nationals, including two lawmakers, whom it accuses of working to destabilize the country.

The United States has imposed sanctions on four Ukrainian nationals, including two lawmakers, accusing them of working on behalf of Russian intelligence services to “destabilize” Ukraine in anticipation of a possible Russian invasion of the country.

Washington announced the measures on Thursday, promising to coordinate with Kyiv to “identify, expose and impose costs” on Ukrainians working under Moscow’s direction.

The US sanctions targeted Taras Kozak and Oleg Voloshyn, two current members of Ukraine’s parliament, as well as Vladimir Sivkovich and Volodymyr Oliynyk, two former officials.

“This action is intended to target, highlight, and undermine Russia’s ongoing destabilization effort in Ukraine,” the State Department said in a statement.

“It is separate and distinct from the wide range of high-impact measures that the United States and its allies and partners are prepared to impose in order to inflict significant costs on the Russian economy and financial system should it further invade Ukraine.”

The Biden administration calls a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine a “new invasion” because Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and soon after backed a separatist rebellion in the east of the country.

The Russian military has amassed troops near the country’s border with Ukraine, raising fears in the United States and Europeans that Russia is preparing for an imminent invasion of its neighbor.

Washington has warned Moscow of “massive consequences” if it proceeds with an incursion.

Russia has denied plans to invade Ukraine, but has vehemently opposed the country’s efforts to join NATO. Moscow is seeking security guarantees that the US-led military alliance will end its eastward expansion into former Soviet republics – a request Washington has dismissed as “non-starter”.

Talks between US and Russian officials and separate negotiations between Russia and NATO earlier this month failed to resolve the impasse. US officials said they continue to seek diplomacy with Russia to end the crisis.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday. Blinken warned Thursday that any “further act of aggression” by Russia against Ukraine would be met with a “swift, severe and united response” from the United States and its partners.

Meanwhile, in its own sanctions statement on Thursday, the US Treasury accused Kozak – one of the two current members of Ukraine’s parliament – ​​of spreading disinformation through several news channels he controls in Ukraine.

He said Voloshyn “worked with Russian actors to undermine Ukrainian government officials and advocate on Russia’s behalf” and accused Oliynyk of gathering information about critical infrastructure in Ukraine on Russia’s behalf.

For his part, Sivkovich “worked with a network of Russian intelligence actors to conduct influence operations,” including efforts to get Kiev to formally cede Crimea to Moscow, the US Treasury claimed.

The sanctions freeze the assets of targeted individuals in the United States and make it a potential crime for American citizens to do business with them.

Kozak and Voloshyn are members of Ukraine’s Opposition Platform – For Life (OPFL) party, which reacted to the measures, accusing the United States of “international political terror”.

“The OPFL declares that the sanctions and the biased criminal proceedings against the representatives of our party aimed at obstructing the legislative activity are an act of international political terror carried out on the orders of the criminal Ukrainian government”, reads the press release published on Thursday on the party website. .

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