Last updated at 13:47 GMT, Friday, 21 February 2014

US considers Ukraine sanctions

Summary

21 February 2014

After the most violent day that Ukraine has experienced since independence more than 20 years ago, the European Union has agreed to impose sanctions on those responsible for the fighting in Ukraine. The US government has told President Yanukovych it is also prepared to add its own sanctions.

Reporter:

Beth McLeod

Barricades in Independence Square in Kiev

The protests centred on Independence Square, also known as the Maidan. Photo: Jüri Maloverjan / BBC

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The US Vice President Joseph Biden spoke to the Ukrainian leader by telephone, calling on him to immediately pull back all security forces. The Vice President said the United States is prepared to sanction those officials responsible for the violence.

Earlier a White House spokesman said that President Obama is considering a "full tool kit" of sanctions, and will choose the policies that are likely to have the maximum effect. This would be in addition to the measure announced on Wednesday of denying US visas to 20 senior members of the Ukrainian government.

Until now the European Union has refrained from imposing sanctions on Ukraine, preferring to emphasise dialogue, but on Thursday EU foreign ministers announced that travel bans and asset freezes will be imposed on those deemed responsible for the violence.

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Vocabulary

pull back

(of soldiers or fighters) move back towards their own land or base

sanction

(here) an official order to stop or limit power, trade or communication, as a punishment for breaking international laws or agreements

tool kit

(here) a set of action plans for a particular purpose

refrained

stopped itself

asset freezes

blocking the movement of money and other property

deemed

considered or judged to be

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