The United States has announced new sanctions related to Russsia's annexation of Crimea and warned that both Washington and its partners were ready to take further steps against Moscow.
The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement on April 11 that the sanctions regard gas company Chernomorneftgaz and six Crimean separatist leaders plus a former Ukrainian official involved in the region's secession and its annexation by Russia.
The decision freezes any assets within U.S. jurisdiction held by those sanctioned and also bans U.S. citizens from conducting transactions with them.
Chernomorneftegaz was sanctioned for being allegedly complicit in the misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine.
David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said on April 11, "Crimea is occupied territory. We will continue to impose costs on those involved in ongoing violations of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The individuals sanctioned are Sevastopol official Aleksei Chaliy, who signed the March agreement to unite Crimea and the city with Russia; Rustam Temirgaliev, Yuriy Zherebtsov, Mikhail Malyshev and Valery Medvedev, who are accused of playing roles in the secession referendum held in March; former security chief Pyotr Zima, who was dismissed by the interim Ukrainian leadership for swearing allegiance to the new Crimean authorities; Sergey Tsekov, the former deputy speaker of Ukraine's parliament, who allegedly was responsible for facilitating the referendum.
The move is the third round of U.S. sanctions in connection with the Ukraine crisis.
Further Steps Possible
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, speaking in Washington at the annual International Monetary Fund-World Bank spring sessions, reiterated
on April 11 that the United States was ready to take further steps in case Moscow does not back down.
"In my meetings, including the one yesterday [April 10] with the Russian Finance Minister [Anton Siluanov] I emphasized that the United States will continue to impose costs on Russia for its illegal and illegitimate occupation of Crimea," said Lew.
He added that Washington was "fully prepared prepared to impose additional significant sanctions on Russia if it continues to escalate the situation in Ukraine."
Lew also said that "there is broad and strong unity within the G7 [group of industrialized countries] on increasing sanctions and costs in response to escalating action from Russia."
Earlier on April 11, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, said that talks among senior U.S., Russian, Ukrainian, and EU officials due in Geneva on April 17.
Psaki said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the four-way talks.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has also confirmed attendance.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP