The US Treasury Department on Thursday announced sanctions against two Ukranian MP’s, Taras Kozak and Oleg Voloshyn, along with two former government officials, accusing them of working with the Russian Federal Security Bureau (FSB) to sow anti-government disinformation domestically.
Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said the officials were integral to Moscow’s efforts to discredit Ukraine’s pro-Western government, and “to degrade the ability of the Ukrainian state to independently function”.
The sanctions come just a day after Blinken met with Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, and other officials in Kyiv, and have been described by the U.S Treasury as distinct from further possible sanctions Washington would to impose to penalise and deter further Russian incursions into Ukraine.
The move also comes ahead of talks between Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva on Friday, to seek resolutions to increasing tensions over a possible Russian invasion of Eastern-Ukraine.
Despite maneuvering thousands of troops within its borders, the Kremlin has categorically denied any intention to invade Ukraine. Meanwhile, the UK has supplied anti-tank missiles to the Ukrainian government, with UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, asserting them to be “no threat to Russia” and are solely “to use in self-defence”.
Moscow has also demanded an end to NATO’s military expansion onto it’s doorstep, declaring NATO’s latest proposed enlargement as a violation of agreements made in 1990 and again in 1993, that the defensive alliance would not expand beyond its Cold War borders.