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United States hit 4 Ukrainians with sanctions for helping Russia

United States hit 4 Ukrainians with sanctions for helping Russia
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a news conference after of meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Latvia on December 1, 2021. He spoke in support of sanctions against four Ukrainians Thursday for helping Russia. File Photo by Toms Kalnins/EPA-EFE

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The White House announced sanctions Thursday on four current and former members of the Ukrainian government who it says have stoked Russian influence in the country.

The State Department and Treasury said the individuals have ties to Russian intelligence and have acted to direct those agents as Russia continues to threaten Ukraine.

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The United States named current Parliament members Taras Kozak and Oleh Voloshyn; Volodymyr Oliynyk, a former Ukrainian official who has fled to Russia; and Vladimir Sivkovich, a deputy secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council.

"The United States is taking action to expose and counter Russia's dangerous and threatening campaign of influence and disinformation in Ukraine," Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. "We are committed to taking steps to hold Russia accountable for their destabilizing actions."

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The Treasury said the four have acted at the behest of the Russian Federal Security Service, the intelligence service of Russia, and have supported Russian-directed influence operations against the United States and its allies.

"This action is intended to target, highlight and undercut Russia's ongoing destabilization effort in Ukraine," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

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"It is 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."

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Blinken said Russia has used "hybrid tactics" in its supposed run-up to a possible invasion, including disinformation and another influence campaign for years to destabilize Ukraine.

"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.

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