U.S. pledges $1 billion in aid to Ukraine, threatens sanctions; Russia tests missile
By End the Lie
The Obama administration announced a massive $1 billion aid package to Ukraine on Tuesday while continuing to threaten economic sanctions. Meanwhile, Russia fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in what appeared to be an unrelated test.
Read our latest: “US, EU threaten sanctions on Russia; Russian officials deny reported ultimatum to Ukraine” and “Russian troops take over Crimea, Ukrainian troops on alert, world powers scramble to respond”
Secretary of State John Kerry announced the economic aid and technical assistance package in Kiev on Tuesday, while also criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kerry said that Putin may be preparing to expand the scope of the Russian military operation out of Crimea and into eastern Ukraine, according to The New York Times.
“It is clear that Russia has been working hard to create a pretext for being able to invade further,” Kerry said at a news conference at the American Embassy in Kiev.
Kerry said that while walking through the streets of Kiev, he never saw anyone who felt threatened “except for the potential of an invasion by Russia.”
He said that he hopes Putin “would step back and listen carefully that we would like to see this de-escalated.”
“We are not looking for some major confrontation,” Kerry said.
Kerry made statements in Kiev similar to the ones made on Monday that garnered significant criticism.
“It is not appropriate to invade a country and at the end of a barrel of a gun dictate what you are trying to achieve,” Kerry said on Tuesday. “That is not 21st century, G-8, major-nation behavior.”
The technical assistance to be provided by the U.S. will include technical experts that will help the Ukrainian national bank and finance ministry by providing advice on how to fight corruption.
The U.S. will also send people to help train election monitors that will help establish the legitimacy of the upcoming Ukrainian election.
The Times reports that American officials are offering assistance in recovering “stolen assets,” which is “an allusion to the billions of dollars reported to have been spirited out of the country by former President Viktor F. Yanukovych and powerful businessmen.”
Kerry said they are working together in an effort to “isolate Russia politically, diplomatically, and economically” if Russian troops are not withdrawn Crimea, according to USA Today.
Obama also spoke out on Tuesday, saying that Putin violated international law by sending troops to Crimea.
“Countries near Russia have deep concerns and suspicions about this kind of meddling,” Obama said, adding that the recent actions may “push many countries further away from Russia.”
However, The Washington Post reports that some European countries are keeping a close eye on their economic ties to Russia. After all, Russia is Germany’s single largest supplier of energy, the French partly owns a company with massive investments in Russia and Britain has close economic links as well.
“Given that Europe’s economic relationship with Russia is multiple times that of the United States, securing the region’s cooperation will be paramount to any effort by Washington to secure significant sanctions,” Anthony Faiola wrote for the Post. “Yet such ties will not be lightly jeopardized, observers say, even in the defense of a fellow European nation under threat.”
Russian news agency RIA Novosti cited the Russian envoy to the European Union who said the EU currently has no plans to impose sanctions on his country.
Russia seems to be pushing back against the pressure.
Gazprom, a Russian energy giant, has increased the price of gas supplied to Ukraine, though Putin maintained the move was unrelated to political tensions, The Telegraph reported.
If Ukraine cannot pay their debts in full, they will owe Gazprom around $2 billion, according to chief executive Alexei Miller.
Yet with all that is going on Reuters reports that Putin’s assurance that he would only use force in Ukraine as a last resort “relieved investors’ fears that East-West tension over the former Soviet republic could lead to war.”
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