Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops on its borders with Ukraine, and Western states fear Moscow is planning another assault on the country. Russia denies planning an attack, but says it could take unspecified military action if a list of demands is not met.
“We are not waiting to counter Russia with these actions, we are taking steps now to do so. Russia inside Ukraine,” a senior official said. A US administration official told reporters.
The United States has targeted two members of Ukraine’s parliament, Taras Kozak and Oleh Voloshyn, as well as former officials Volodymyr Oliynyk and Vladimir Sivkovich, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
The Treasury said these designees act under the direction of Russia’s FSB security service and played a role in Russia’s campaign to destabilize sovereign countries.
Kozak controls news channels in Ukraine and backed plans to vilify members of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s inner circle and falsely accused him of mismanagement, the Treasury said.
He accused Voloshyn of working with Russia to undermine Ukrainian officials.
Oliynyk, who fled Ukraine to Russia, worked with the FSB to gather intelligence on Ukrainian critical infrastructure, while former National Security and Defense Council official Sivkovich tried to build support for the Ukraine to formally cede Crimea to Russia, Treasury said.
Thursday’s action was the latest from Washington to target Russian disinformation and interference, a second senior US administration official said.
“They are in addition to a series of sanctions that we are ready to take with our allies and partners to impose significant costs on Russia and its economy should it invade Ukraine further in the future,” he said. the manager.
When asked if the United States planned to target Russia’s participation in the SWIFT financial system if Moscow invaded Ukraine, an official said: “We haven’t taken any options off the table.”
Western nations said on Thursday they would be united in responding strongly to any Russian attack on Ukraine, moving to damage control after US President Joe Biden suggested divisions over how to respond to a ‘minor incursion’ .
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned in a statement that Russian intelligence had recruited Ukrainian officials to gain access to sensitive information ahead of a possible invasion.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Steve Holland and Chris Gallagher; Editing by Howard Goller)
By Daphne Psaledakis and Steve Holland