The State Department announced new sanctions Thursday on four Ukrainian citizens, including two members of the national parliament, accused of cooperating with a Russian intelligence operation designed to destabilize the former Soviet republic.
The moves comes as the U.S. and its NATO allies are braced for a possible Russian military incursion into its neighbor after the Kremlin assembled some 100,000 troops and heavy weaponry close to the Ukrainian border.
The Biden administration has accused Moscow of trying to undermine Ukraine‘s sovereignty and has warned that Russia may attempt to create a false pretext to justify an invasion.
Russia has sharply opposed a possible NATO membership for Ukraine and is demanding the Western military alliance pull back broadly in Eastern Europe.
The State Department in a statement Thursday charged that Russian FSB intelligence service has “been recruiting Ukrainian nationals in key positions to gain access to sensitive information. The FSB leverages these officials in an attempt to create instability in Ukraine.”
The four Ukrainians targeted in the new sanctions are Taras Kozak, Oleh Voloshyn, Volodymyr Oliynyk and Vladimir Sivkovic.
Mr. Kozak and Mr. Voloshyn are members of the Ukrainian parliament, and Mr. Kozak has used his extensive media properties inside Ukraine to “denigrate senior members of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s inner circle and amplify false narratives around the 2020 U.S. elections,” according to the State Department.
“This action is intended to target, highlight, and undercut Russia’s ongoing destabilization effort in Ukraine,” the State Department statement said. “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.”