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US authorities welcome Russia’s revocation of right to use army in Ukraine

WASHINGTON, June 26, /ITAR-TASS/. The US administration welcomes the decision by the upper house of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council, to cancel its resolution of March 1 on the possibility of using Russia’s armed forces in Ukraine, a deputy spokeswoman for the US Department of State, Marie Harf, said Wednesday.

“We welcome the Federation Council’s decision to repeal the resolution authorizing the use of military - Russian military force in Ukraine. The repeal is a step in the right direction,” Harf said at a daily press briefing.

The parliament-given right to use Russia’s armed forces in Ukraine authorized Russian President Vladimir Putin to send troops to the territory of conflict-gripped Ukraine “until the public and political situation normalizes in the country.”

The authorization gave Moscow an opportunity to protect, should need arise, Russian speakers in the neighboring country, which was in turmoil after a coup occurred there in February and new people were brought to power amid riots and ultranationalist rhetoric.

The Federation Council considered Putin’s request at a plenary session on Wednesday and overwhelmingly supported it.

Harf also said at the press briefing: “We have seen Russia take some steps, again, including by revoking the resolution. But we really need Russia to do more.”

“Today we’ve seen some tiny steps, but much, much more needs to be done,” she said.

Harf cited US Secretary of State John Kerry. “This was a good step in terms of the revocation of the law, but as you heard the Secretary say, it could be put back on very quickly.”

The deputy spokeswoman said the United States expects Russia to secure its border with Ukraine, urge federalization supporters in Ukraine that the US calls “separatists” to “lay down their arms and release the OSCE hostages.”

“So those are the important actions we’re looking for, and we will continue to judge Russia by those actions. We have additional sanctions ready to go. We’re continuing to talk to the Europeans, and if we’re going to impose them at some point, we will do so,” Harf said.

The diplomat accused Russia of continuing to deploy its combat units “to locations close to the Ukrainian border.” “This is not in keeping with the intent - with the Russian intent to de-escalate the situation,” she said.

Some Russian officials and companies have been subjected to sanctions by Western nations, including visa bans and asset freezes, following Crimea’s incorporation by Russia in March.

The West led by the United States has repeatedly threatened Russia with further penalties, including economic ones, for its position on Ukraine (incorporation of Crimea and what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests of federalization supporters in Ukraine’s Southeast).

Russia has rejected the threats of broader sanctions, saying the language of punitive measures is counterproductive and will have a boomerang effect on Western countries.

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the authorities brought to power by the February coup in Ukraine.

Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11. They held a referendum on March 16, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Putin signed the reunification deals March 18.

Putin has repeatedly dismissed Western claims that Russia could in any way be involved in massive protests against the coup-imposed Kiev authorities in Ukraine's Southeast, which followed Crimea’s reunification with Russia.