The U.S. is preparing financial sanctions on pro-Russian agents in Ukraine as Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to Europe to meet the Ukrainian leadership and his Russian counterpart, part of a show of diplomacy and pressure that Washington hopes will dissuade Russia from invading its neighbor, U.S. officials said.
As pressure mounts for the U.S. and its European allies to take swift action to deter Russian escalation, the coming action against individuals in Ukraine rather than the Russian government underscores some of the administration’s interest in exhausting diplomatic avenues with Moscow, officials said. The U.S. and its allies hope for a diplomatic breakthrough after four rounds of talks last week failed to narrow the gap between Moscow and Western nations.
Rachel Ziemba, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said the move is a way to “signal concerns about lack of progress from diplomacy, while also trying to keep cohesion.”
“The U.S. administration is looking to thread the needle via targeting Ukrainian-based pro-Russian officials while still seeking to maintain cohesion on a broader, if shrinking, package,” she added.
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