WASHINGTON, September 10. /ITAR-TASS/. The administration of US President Barack Obama is finalizing the process of drafting new sanctions against Russia over the events in Ukraine but will decide on the expediency of imposing them depending on the Ukrainian developments, the Department of State said Tuesday.
Department of State spokeswoman Marie Harf said this when journalists asked her to comment on the European Union's decision to work out a new package of punitive measures against Moscow but delay their entry into force for some time.
Harf said the United States’ new prospective penalties will be aimed at the Russian economy’s financial, energy and defense sectors and added that the US is closely coordinating its actions with the EU.
The US will make its judgment on whether to impose new sanctions on the basis of what will happen in Ukraine in the next few days, she said. The spokeswoman refused to discuss whether penalties will be introduced in case peace deals on Ukraine are fulfilled.
Asked whether ceasefire agreements in south-eastern Ukraine are being implemented, Harf answered in the affirmative, saying that despite reports of separate instances of shelling and automatic fire in some areas, the ceasefire has been observed in general.
Russian officials and companies came under Western sanctions, including visa bans, asset freezes, and sectoral restrictions for Russia's incorporation of Crimea after a coup in Ukraine in February and for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in mass protests in Ukraine’s embattled south-east, which Russia has repeatedly denied.
In response, Moscow imposed on August 6 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway.
Fierce clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and local militias in the southeastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), have killed hundreds of civilians, brought massive destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee Ukraine’s south-east.
The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire during talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Belarusian capital Minsk on September 5.
The Minsk meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE, with participation of DPR and LPR leaders, came two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested his seven-item plan to settle the crisis in Ukraine after a phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Pyotr Poroshenko.
The protocol on joint steps to settle the crisis in Ukraine, adopted September 5, contains 12 points, including non-use of weapons and monitoring of the ceasefire regime by the OSCE, as well as establishment of a safety zone in border regions between Ukraine and Russia.
The document also says power should be decentralized in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine, hostages freed, combat operations participants given guarantees that they will not be prosecuted and nationwide dialogue continued.