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America threatens sanctions on Russia

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WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration called Russia's advances in Ukraine "a brazen act of aggression" Sunday and threatened sanctions but skirted questions about whether the United States might use force to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The U.S. State Department announced Sunday Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Kyiv on Tuesday to show support for the new leadership there in the face of the Russian military intervention. Kerry on Sunday called the rapid movement of Russian troops across the border into Ukraine's Crimea region unwarranted and outside international law and said Russia would suffer economic and political consequences.

"He's going to lose on the international stage," Kerry said on NBC's Meet the Press, referring to Putin. "Russia is going to lose, the Russian people are going to lose, and he's going to lose all of the glow that came out of the Olympics, his $60-billion extravaganza."

Economic sanctions and travel restrictions on individual Russians are one possibility, as is a U.S. and European boycott of planning meetings this week for the upcoming summit of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations in Russia.

'Russia is going to lose, the Russian people are going to lose, and he's going to lose all of the glow that came out of the Olympics'

-- John Kerry

The United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia are members of the G8.

"There are visa bans, asset freezes, isolation with respect to trade, investment," Kerry said on CBS's Face the Nation. "American businesses may well want to start thinking twice about whether they want to do business with a country that behaves like this. These are serious implications."

Kerry also said the administration was ready to provide economic assistance "of a major sort" to Ukraine.

U.S. President Barack Obama discussed Ukraine on Sunday with the leaders of Germany, Britain and Poland.

Administration officials said the trade and economic penalties being considered would target Russia's prized economic position abroad. Actions against Russian banks are a possible avenue, one administration official said, while another said the potential actions would be significant and would leave Russia weaker.

"This will have a cost on the Russian economy," one senior administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the unfolding international diplomacy. "Some of those costs will be imposed by the United States; some of that Russia has already invited on itself," the official added.

The official acknowledged efforts are "focused on political and economic options."

Kerry said he spoke Saturday with foreign ministers from the G8 and other nations and "every single one of them are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia."

-- The Washington Post

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 3, 2014 A3

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