Senators Press Obama for Sanctions Against Ukrainian Officials

The administration has blocked 20 individuals from obtaining a visa to travel to the United States.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) talks to reporters after leaving the Senate GOP policy luncheon at the U.S. Captiol December 11, 2012 in Washington, DC. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the Senate Republicans met for their weekly policy luncheon meeting and, with the 'fiscal cliff' looming, said President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats have 'refused to be pinned down on any spending cuts.'
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Feb. 20, 2014, 3:32 a.m.

Sens. John Mc­Cain and Chris Murphy joined a grow­ing num­ber of their col­leagues Wed­nes­day call­ing on the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to take ac­tion against Ukrain­i­an of­fi­cials whom they be­lieve are tied to the coun­try’s re­cent vi­ol­ence.

The bi­par­tis­an duo in a joint state­ment pressed for “tar­geted sanc­tions” against those who are re­spons­ible for or sup­por­ted vi­ol­ence against peace­ful pro­test­ers in the European coun­try.

Protests have been on­go­ing since late Novem­ber, when Pres­id­ent Vikt­or Ya­nukovych’s gov­ern­ment an­nounced it would back away from a trade agree­ment that would have strengthened the coun­try’s ties with the European Uni­on.

A seni­or State De­part­ment of­fi­cial an­nounced Wed­nes­day that the ad­min­is­tra­tion is block­ing ap­prox­im­ately 20 Ukrain­i­an of­fi­cials, whom it says are tied to the gov­ern­ment’s re­cent crack­down, from ob­tain­ing a visa to travel to the United States.

The of­fi­cial ad­ded that the United States is pre­pared to work with the European Uni­on on broad­er sanc­tions against in­di­vidu­als if the situ­ation between the demon­strat­ors and the gov­ern­ment wor­sens. At least 22 people died in clashes in Kiev on Thursday, a day after Ya­nukovych an­nounced a truce with op­pos­i­tion lead­ers aimed at end­ing the fight­ing.

Mc­Cain and Murphy said they are already work­ing on le­gis­la­tion in­clud­ing “tar­geted sanc­tions on gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and oth­er per­sons who have com­mit­ted, ordered, or ma­ter­i­ally sup­por­ted acts of vi­ol­ence against peace­ful cit­izens in Ukraine, or who are com­pli­cit in the roll­back of Ukraine’s demo­cracy,” adding that they “re­main in con­tact with the ad­min­is­tra­tion and look for­ward to work­ing to­geth­er on this le­gis­la­tion.”

And the two aren’t alone.

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For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee Chair­man Robert Men­en­dez said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day, “The time is now to ap­ply sanc­tions against the Ukrain­i­an gov­ern­ment for gross hu­man-rights vi­ol­a­tions.” He stressed that he ex­pects the “ad­min­is­tra­tion, with con­gres­sion­al sup­port, to act swiftly on this is­sue of crit­ic­al im­port­ance.”

And Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Marco Ru­bio said the ad­min­is­tra­tion should “use every dip­lo­mat­ic means at its dis­pos­al, in­clud­ing sanc­tions, to bring ac­count­ab­il­ity to those in­volved in acts of vi­ol­ence throughout Ukraine.”

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