WASHINGTON – The United States blacklisted seven separatists in Ukraine on Friday and threatened scalpel sanctions on Russia's financial, defence and high-tech industries as more Russian military material has flowed into Ukraine.
The US moves respond to what American officials say is Russia's recent increase in support to Ukrainian separatists, including the provision of Russian tanks and the preparation of more to cross into eastern Ukraine. Separatist rebellions erupted in eastern Ukraine in early April after street protests in Kiev toppled the Moscow-backed leader Viktor Yanukovich and Russia in turn annexed the Crimean peninsula.
Eastern rebels have called for union with Russia. The US Treasury named seven people, including separatist leaders in Donetsk, Slovyansk, Luhansk and the Crimean city of Sevastopol, whose assets under US jurisdiction will be frozen and with whom US individuals and firms will be generally barred from dealing. The Treasury said one of the seven was a Russian citizen but gave no information on the citizenship of the other six.
Separately, the US State Department said that it was confident Russia last week sent tanks and rocket launchers from a deployment site in southwest Russia into eastern Ukraine and believed more tanks were being readied for delivery. "We also have information that Russia has accumulated artillery at a deployment site in southwest Russia, including a type of artillery utilized by Ukrainian forces but no longer in
Russia's active forces, and believe Russia may soon provide this equipment to separatist fighters," said Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the State Department. A senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Ukranian officials today told diplomats in Brussels that they had "evidence of some additional 10 tanks, fuel trucks, and additional supporting vehicles coming over the border outside of Luhansk in the last 24 hours."