partlycloudy
Tuesday June 30th, 2015 1:23AM

West readies package of sector sanctions on Russia

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States and its European allies are finalizing a package of sanctions on Russia's key economic sectors that could be levied as early as this week, though the penalties might be delayed because of positive signals from Russian President Vladimir Putin, administration officials and others close to the decision-making said Tuesday. <br /> <br /> Penalizing large swaths of the Russian economy, including its lucrative energy industry, would ratchet up the West's punishments against Moscow over its threatening moves in Ukraine. The U.S. and Europe have already sanctioned Russian individuals and entities, including some with close ties to Putin, but have so far stayed away from the broader penalties, in part because of concern from European countries that have close economic ties with Russia. <br /> <br /> But with the crisis in Ukraine stretching on, a senior U.S. official said the U.S. and Europe are moving forward on ``common sanctions options'' that would affect several areas of the Russian economy. A Western diplomat said those options included Russia's energy industry, as well as Moscow's access to world financial markets. <br /> <br /> The U.S. and Europe have been eyeing a European Council meeting in Brussels later this week as an opportunity to announce the coordinated sanctions. However, the enthusiasm for new sanctions, particularly among European leaders, appears to have waned in recent days as countries evaluate whether Putin plans to follow through on a series of promises that could ease the crisis, officials said. <br /> <br /> The Russian leader acted Tuesday to rescind a parliamentary resolution authorizing him to use the Russian military in Ukraine. He also urged the new Ukrainian government to extend a weeklong cease-fire and called for talks between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels that are widely believed to be backed by the Kremlin. <br /> <br /> Putin's moves came one day after he talked by phone with President Barack Obama, their first known conversation in more than two weeks. <br /> <br /> The threat of sector sanctions may be driving Putin to try to avoid penalties that could have a devastating impact on the already shaky Russian economy. However, there were no guarantees that Moscow would abide by the West's requests to pull back its troops from the Ukrainian border, stop arming separatists and negotiate seriously with Kiev. <br /> <br /> Indeed, there were signs Tuesday of just how fragile the situation on the ground remains. Hours after Putin called for the cease-fire to be extended, pro-Moscow separatists shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter, killing nine servicemen. <br /> <br /> Vice President Joe Biden spoke to Ukraine's new president, Petro Poroshenko, for the third time in as many days and offered his condolences for the deaths. The White House said Biden also underscored the importance of having monitors in place in Ukraine to verify violations of the cease-fire, as well as the need to stop the supply of weapons and militants from flowing across the Russian border. <br /> <br /> At the State Department, spokeswoman Marie Harf described the situation on the ground as ``two steps forward, one step back.'' <br /> <br /> ``We do see some positive signs on the ground,'' she told reporters. ``The cease-fire, some separatists have accepted it, but the same day some other separatists shot down a helicopter. That President Putin says he'll go to the Duma, that's good, but then they continue the military buildup.'' <br /> <br /> At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest said that if Russia were to make positive changes, it would make additional sanctions ``less likely.'' <br /> <br /> Even if the U.S. and European Union decide not to levy sector sanctions this week, they could outline clearer intentions to ultimately take that step. In Europe, the 28 nations that form the EU may at least agree on the details of a package of sanctions so the penalties could be levied quickly, according to the Western diplomat, who like other officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the internal deliberations by name. <br /> <br /> An industry expert and legislative aides with knowledge of the sanctions said the penalties being readied by the U.S. are expected to focus on energy and aim to hurt the Russian economy without causing undue harm for U.S. industry a shared concern among administration officials, business lobbies and members of Congress. <br /> <br /> Although American officials have examined the possibility of unilateral action, they are still trying to do everything in concert with European countries. Officials said implementing restrictions on American companies exporting oil and gas exploration technology to Russia, for example, without similar rules for European competitors, risks harming major U.S. players in Russia's burgeoning energy sector such as ExxonMobil and Halliburton. <br /> <br /> Several U.S. businesses are worried about the prospect of imminent sector sanctions on Russia and have held meetings with senior administration officials over the past 10 days. <br /> <br /> Given their reliance on Moscow for fuel supplies and far deeper economic integration with Russia, European countries are unlikely to go along with any far-reaching energy sector action. So if the U.S. moves ahead on its own, the Obama administration fears Russia would be able to escape punishment by shifting business from U.S. firms to European energy giants such as BP, Total or Royal Dutch Shell.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 5 months ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 5 months ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 5 months ago )
Local/State News
Independence Day events around North Ga.
This is a list of events scheduled in celebration of Independence Day weekend around the region. Each event is organized by date.
By AccessWDUN Staff
12:00PM ( 10 hours from now )
Minority leaders form "Black-Brown Alliance" to oppose at-large voting
More than 20 people, including leaders in the African-American and Latino communities, gathered in a conference room at the Newtown Florist Club in Gainesville to discuss the city's at-large voting system.
5:56PM ( 7 hours ago )
Sculptor chosen for MLK statue at Georgia Capitol
A sculptor has been selected to create a statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that will stand on the grounds of Georgia's Capitol, Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday.
5:40PM ( 7 hours ago )
Price Road house fire total loss
Hall County Fire Services responded to the 5200 block of Price Road on the report of a barn fire Monday morning.
4:16PM ( 9 hours ago )
SCOGA rules in favor of Elbert County on landfill issue
A court decision that would have allowed a proposal for a solid waste landfill to proceed in Elbert County has been reversed.
2:59PM ( 10 hours ago )