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U.S. could hit Russian officials with sanctions, State Dept says

Source: Reuters - Mon, 21 Apr 2014 22:36 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Corrects to remove references to possibility of United States imposing sanctions on Putin)

MOSCOW, April 21 (Reuters) - The United States could impose sanctions on a range of Russian officials over the crisis in Ukraine, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday.

Asked in an interview on Twitter whether the United States was considering the possibility of hitting Russian President Vladimir Putin personally with sanctions, Psaki replied: "Range of officials under consideration. Plenty to sanction before we would discuss President #Putin."

Earlier, in response to a question over whether the prospect of imposing sanctions on individuals, companies and business sectors was effective, Psaki replied: "Yes. Impt (important) to lay out consequences. U.S. able to sanction people, companies, and sectors. Goal not sanctions. Goal de-escalation."

The United States has imposed visa bans and assets freezes on several Russian officials and lawmakers deemed involved in Russia's annexation of the Crimea region from Ukraine last month, and it has targeted businessmen with ties to Putin.

It has warned of further sanctions, including measures affecting entire economic sectors, if Russia does not follow through on an agreement reached last week by the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union in a bid to deescalate the crisis.

Asked about Putin's statements that Russia is not interfering in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have seized buildings and ignored the four-way agreement's demands that they surrender them, Psaki tweeted: "Putin rhetoric doesn't match facts on ground." (Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Jan Paschal)

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