US blacklists Ukraine separatists, Crimea bank

11th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

The United States stepped up pressure on Ukraine separatists Wednesday, announcing economic sanctions on rebel leaders and their alleged Russian supporters, and on the largest bank in Crimea.

The US Treasury listed eight separatist officials and the Eurasian Youth Union, a nationalist Russian group said to recruit fighters to join the rebels, under the sanctions.

The separatists include Aleksandr Karaman, Oleksandr Khodakovsky, and Ekaterina Gubareva, top officials with the self-proclaimed rebel Donetsk People's Republic in Ukraine.

The Treasury named as well the Russian National Commercial Bank, a formerly little-known institution which has become the largest bank in Crimea since Russia seized the region from Ukraine one year ago.

Also listed were three officials of the former Ukraine government of Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Moscow president overthrown in an uprising in February 2014.

The sanctions freeze any assets of the individuals and institutions held on US property and ban Americans from doing business with them.

For Russian National Commercial Bank, the sanctions effectively lock it out of major parts of the global financial system by forbidding other banks with US presences -- including most large global banks -- from handling money for it.

The Treasury called the sanctions "part of an ongoing effort to hold accountable those responsible for violations of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

"That includes individuals, organizations, businesses, and the governments that support them," said Treasury Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin.

"If Russia continues to support destabilizing activity in Ukraine and violate the Minsk agreements and implementation plan, the already substantial costs it faces will continue to rise," he said.

© 2015 AFP

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