U.S.’s Kerry redoubles sanctions threats on Russia

By Michael Hernandez, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kerry lauds Kiev’s efforts to diffuse tensions in Ukraine’s east during call with the country’s Premier

Kerry lauds Kiev’s efforts to diffuse tensions in Ukraine’s east during call with the country’s Premier

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry phoned his Russian counterpart Tuesday to emphasize that the U.S. is prepared to apply more sanctions on the Kremlin should tensions in Ukraine’s east fail to subside.

The call comes as pro-Russian protesters, some armed, continue to occupy government buildings in the east of Ukraine despite an accord reached last week between representatives from Ukraine, the U.S., the E.U. and Russia for those groups to disarm and relinquish control of occupied buildings.

During his call with Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, Kerry “expressed deep concern over the lack of positive Russian steps to de-escalate, cited mounting evidence that separatists continue to increase the number of buildings under occupation and take journalists and other civilians captive,” according to a senior administration official who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity. 

The official further stated that Kerry called on the Kremlin to tone down its rhetoric, engage with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in eastern Ukraine, and publicly call for protesters to abandon their buildings in exchange for amnesty.  

In a separate call with Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Ukrainian Premier, America’s top diplomat struck a much different note. 

Kerry lauded Kiev’s efforts to de-escalate the situation, including progress on an amnesty bill, its moves to broaden national dialogue on constitutional reform and the government’s coordination with the OSCE, according to the senior administration official. 

“Secretary Kerry encouraged final passage of the amnesty legislation and the formal launch of the national dialogue, including the issuance of invitations to a broad range of participants,” according to the official.

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