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Thursday, December 01, 2022

US sanctions Ukrainian officials accused of helping Russia

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The US Treasury Department imposed new sanctions Thursday against four Ukrainian officials, including two current members of parliament, in what administration officials say attempts to Russian influence to set up a pretext for further invasion of Ukraine. are part of.

The sanctions name MPs Taras Kozak and Oleh Voloshin and two former government officials. According to the Treasury, all four have been closely involved in propaganda efforts by Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the FSB.

The new sanctions were announced less than 24 hours after President Joe Biden said he thought Moscow would launch a new invasion of Ukraine. He warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country would pay a “dear price” in lives lost and a possible restriction in access to the global banking system if it did.

Biden faced criticism from Republicans and Ukrainian officials for inviting a limited Russian offensive by suggesting in comments to reporters on Wednesday that if there were only “minor incursions” into Ukrainian territory, the US would respond with a measured response. Will do Administration officials sought clarification His remarks late Wednesday and Thursday.

The White House warned last week That Russia has deployed operatives in and around Ukraine, possibly to make excuses for aggression. US and Ukrainian officials are also concerned about Russia using propaganda as a weapon.

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“The United States is taking action to expose and counter Russia’s dangerous and dangerous propaganda and propaganda in Ukraine,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. “We are committed to taking steps to hold Russia accountable for their destabilizing actions.”

Kozak, who controls several news channels in Ukraine, is accused of spreading false narratives about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inner circle and the 2020 elections. The Treasury says Voloshin worked with Russia’s FSB to undermine Ukrainian government officials.

Treasury officials say Voloshin also worked with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who had previously been sanctioned for an alleged attempt to influence. 2016 presidential election and reporting to Russian intelligence.

The Treasury also approved Vladimir Sivkovich, Ukraine’s former deputy secretary of state for the National Security and Defense Councils. The administration says Sivkovic worked with a network of Russian intelligence activists last year to attempt to build support for Ukraine to officially cede Crimea to Russia in exchange for the reduction of Russian-backed forces. . Russian troops occupied Crimea in 2014 and continue to occupy the Black Sea peninsula.

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The other former official cited is Volodymyr Olyani, who the Treasury says worked under the direction of the FSB to gather information about Ukrainian critical infrastructure. According to the Treasury, Olink is currently residing in Russia.

After Biden speculated about a “minor incursion” by Russia, top administration officials underlined that any invasion would be seen as a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and would result in dire consequences for Russia.

Still, the comments have rattled Kiev and hinted at Biden’s challenge to keep the United States and its NATO allies united in response to Russia.

“We want to remind the great powers that there are no small intrusions and small nations,” Zelensky tweeted shortly before the new sanctions were announced on Thursday. “Just as the loss of loved ones causes no casualties and little sorrow.”

About one lakh Russian soldiers have gathered near the Ukrainian border. Russian officials are seeking written guarantees that NATO will not expand westward. The members of the Coalition refuse to give such a pledge.

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