U.S. sanctions against Ukraine: is the threat real?

U.S. sanctions against Ukraine: is the threat real?

Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 12

By Elena Kosolapova- Trend:

The U.S. said it is considering sanctions against the Ukraine government for its crackdown on pro-West demonstrators.

"All policy options, including sanctions, are on the table," U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in Washington on Dec 11.

Such a statement followed the Ukrainian riot police attempts to dislodge anti-government protesters from their strongholds in the capital. The Kiev protests began in November after Ukrainian president backed away from a trade deal with the European Union to pursue closer ties with Russia.

The U.S. and the EU have already urged Ukraine not to use its armed forces against civilians.

If the authorities continue to use force against protesters and try to disrupt them violently, sanctions are possible, Yuri Yakimenko, Deputy Director of the Ukrainian analytical center named after Razumovsky believes. The threat of sanctions directed at certain Ukrainian politicians still may prevent them from more coercive measures.

Ukrainian officials unlikely are willing to live the lives of their Belarusian counterparts, Yakimenko told Trend.

"Ukraine, Ukrainian officials and Ukrainian businesses are more integrated into the global community compared to Belarus and sanctions will be more perceptible here," he said.

Personal comfort, material well-being, possibility to visit the Western countries and have bank accounts there is very important for Ukrainian officials so they will try to prevent such sanctions, Yakimenko added.

Mikhail Pogrebinsky, director of the Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Studies agrees that sanctions against some Ukrainian officials would be painful but does not believe the U.S. will go as far as imposing sanctions.

"The Americans have interests in Ukraine, U.S. companies are working here. Moreover the sanctions will totally push Ukraine into Russia's embrace. They (U.S.) are not interested in it," Pogrebinsky told Trend.

Meanwhile economic sanctions are unlikely as they will not affect Ukraine due to scanty U.S.- Ukrainian trade, he said.

The statements on possible sanctions are intended to intimidate Ukraine, Pogrebinsky believes. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's call to Ukrainian Defense Minister Pavel Lebedev was another move in this direction, he elaborated.

"If he calls and scares, I assess this as the threat of force," Pogrebinsky said.

Meanwhile the policy analyst does not expect such threats will influence the decision of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

"It should be apparent to Yanukovych that they (the western countries) have already written him off. This means that he will have to seek support in Moscow," the expert said.

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