US announces first economic sanctions since Russia-Ukraine crisis

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Financial penalties were announced by the US on Monday targeting separatist territory in eastern Ukraine that had recently been recognised by Russia, and the US warned that more would be imposed if necessary.

Russian President  Vladimir Putin and his top national security officers held a televised meeting in which they claimed that Ukraine was conducting “genocide” against Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine. Putin said he would consider separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine who are backed by Russia’s government seeking recognition as separate republics. Soon before Putin spoke, the leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas region went on Russian television to demand that Russia recognise their independence.

Last week, the Russian parliament passed a resolution encouraging Russian President Vladimir Putin to recognise the two territories as separate republics.

Russian military are also remaining in Belarus, prolonging their “joint drills” past the exercises’ scheduled end date — a move the US alleges is part of a series of provocations Russia has carried out as a preparation to its aggression in Ukraine.

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