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US hits four Ukrainians said to work for Russian FSB with sanctions

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The US Treasury announced sanctions Thursday on four Ukrainians it said were involved in operations by Russia’s FSB intelligence service to undermine the Ukrainian government and economy.

The four, including two current members of parliament and two former officials, “act at the direction of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB)” and are “engaged in Russian government-directed influence activities to destabilize Ukraine,” the Treasury said.

The two lawmakers hit with sanctions, Taras Kozak and Oleh Voloshyn, are members of the political party of Victor Medvedchuk, a Moscow-aligned politician already placed on the US black list “for his role in undermining Ukrainian sovereignty in 2014.”

The Treasury called Kozak and Voloshyn “pawns” of the FSB, saying Kozak uses television channels he controls to undermine the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Both men, it said, were involved in disinformation campaigns directed at the US presidential election in 2020 that were run by Russian intelligence.

Also sanctioned were Volodymyr Oliynyk, a former Ukrainian official whom the Treasury said moved to Russia and worked with Moscow to damage Ukrainian critical infrastructure; and Vladimir Sivkovich, a former senior Ukrainian national security official who allegedly actively supported Russia’s control of the Crimea region after it was seized in 2014.

Sivkovich also was said to be involved in FSB disinformation operations in the United States related to the 2020 election.

The sanctions come as the United States and European allies seek to prevent Moscow from invading Ukraine after amassing more than 100,000 troops on the country’s border.

“This action is intended to target, highlight, and undercut Russia’s ongoing destabilization effort in Ukraine,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in Europe for talks with allies on the Ukraine crisis.

Blinken stressed that the sanctions announced Thursday were “separate and distinct” from the measures the United States and allies have prepared against Russia if it invades Ukraine.

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden said the Western response would “impose severe costs and significant harm on Russia and the Russian economy.”

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.




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