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G7 To 'Act Urgently' On Russia Sanctions

G7 leaders meeting last month in The Hague
G7 leaders meeting last month in The Hague
The Group of Seven (G7) leading industrial powers have agreed to move forward with additional sanctions against Russia if Moscow does not take concrete measures to support an agreement reached in Geneva agreement last week that is aimed de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

A statement issued by the G7 on April 26 said that because of the urgent need to ensure "a successful and peaceful democratic vote next month in Ukraine's presidential election," the group has "committed to act urgently to intensify targeted sanctions."

The statement comes amid media reports quoting unnamed European Union and U.S. administration officials saying the United States and the EU will announce new targeted sanctions against Russian individuals as early as April 28.

The White House said on April 26 that fresh U.S. sanctions have been prepared, but would not immediately comment on the timing or details of who would be targeted.

But the unnamed U.S. officials said Washington will target individuals described as "cronies" of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Reuters and AFP quote several unnamed EU officials who said on April 26 that EU diplomats will meet in Brussels on April 28 to flesh out the details of what they are calling an additional list of “stage two” sanctions -- such as asset freezes and travel bans.

Those sources told Reuters that the EU will add 15 new names to its list of sanctions, focusing on those thought to be responsible for fomenting unrest in Ukraine.

Some Russian individuals reportedly are on both the EU and the U.S. lists. But the two lists are not identical.

The reports come after a White House statement on April 25 said the leaders of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy had agreed during a conference call that Russia has "continued to escalate the situation through its increasingly concerning rhetoric and threatening military exercises on Ukraine's border."

Western officials accuse Moscow of failing to implement any of the promises Russia made under last week's Geneva agreement to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis.

The announcement of fresh sanctions comes after pro-Russian separatists detained a team of OSCE military observers in eastern Ukraine, claiming that they are "NATO spies."

Pro-Russian separatists have seized government and police buildings in at least 10 cities and towns of eastern Ukraine in recent days, prompting the central government in Kyiv to deploy military forces for what it describes as "antiterrorist" operations.

Russia, which has deployed some 40,000 troops near its border with Ukraine, has called on Kyiv to withdraw its troops from eastern Ukraine.

Russia also has launched military excercises in the region that include activity by its troops as close as one kilometer from the border, saying the operation is a response to Kyiv's deployments in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called alleged Russian airspace violations overnight a "provocation to war" and cut short a foreign visit to return to Kyiv.

U.S. military officials also said Russian military planes had flown several flights that violated Ukrainian airspace in recent days -- possibly in an attempt to test Ukraine's ability to monitor its airspace.
Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, AFP, and AP
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