The U.S. government says it is sanctioning four Ukrainians “engaged in Russian government-directed influence activities to destabilize Ukraine.”
“The individuals we are targeting, two of whom are members of Ukraine’s parliament, act at the direction of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and support Russia's destabilizing and dangerous influence operations, which undermine not just Ukraine but also the fundamental principles of democracy,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The U.S. accuses the four Ukrainians of helping Russia “gain access to sensitive information” and “create instability in Ukraine.”
Those sanctioned are Taras Kozak, Oleh Voloshyn, Volodymyr Oliynyk and Vladimir Sivkovich.
“Russia has used hybrid tactics, including disinformation and other influence campaigns, to destabilize Ukraine for years,” Blinken said. “In 2020, Kremlin officials launched a comprehensive information operation plan designed in part to degrade the ability of the Ukrainian state to independently function; the individuals designated today played key roles in that campaign.”
Blinken said the sanctions are “separate and distinct from the broad range of high impact measures the United States and its allies and partners are prepared to impose in order to inflict significant costs on the Russian economy and financial system if it were to further invade Ukraine.”
Blinken is in Berlin Thursday for consultations with key allies about the situation along the Russia-Ukraine border as he prepares for talks Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.
Blinken is meeting with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and British Minister for Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly, before delivering an address about the crisis in Ukraine.
U.S. President Joe Biden said at a news conference Wednesday he thinks Russia will invade Ukraine, reiterating warnings to Russian leader Vladimir Putin such actions would be met with economic sanctions and other consequences.
Russia has denied it has intentions of invading Ukraine and is seeking security guarantees, including that Ukraine is not allowed to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.