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.
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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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- pull back
(of soldiers or fighters) move back towards their own land or base
(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
- asset freezes
blocking the movement of money and other property
considered or judged to be