The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, highlighted on Tuesday his “unwavering support” for Ukraine hours before receiving the country’s Foreign Minister, Dmitro Kuleba, in Washington, in the midst of escalating tensions with Russia.
In a telephone conversation this morning, Blinken told Kuleba Washington’s “rapid response” to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to “recognize the supposed independence” of the so-called separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, in the Ukrainian region of Donbas, in the east of the country.
According to a State Department statement, both diplomats “reiterated” that “additional steps” are expected to be taken in the near future.
Blinken and Kuleba are scheduled to offer a press conference this afternoon at the State Department in Washington at 3:15 p.m. local time.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Monday that prohibits new investment, trade, and other economic transactions by US institutions and citizens in Donetsk and Lugansk, an action that seeks to isolate those two regions from the international financial system based on the dollar.
The executive order also prohibits the importation into the US of goods, services, or technology from those areas of eastern Ukraine, according to the text made public by the White House.
Despite Putin’s decision, who also ordered the deployment of Russian soldiers in Donetsk and Lugansk to “guarantee peace”, Washington failed to announce on Monday the large package of economic sanctions against Russia that it has been preparing with its allies for weeks.
Tensions between Kiev and Moscow have increased since last November, after Russia stationed tens of thousands of troops near the Ukrainian border, triggering alarms in Ukraine and the West, which denounced the preparations for an invasion.
The situation has worsened in recent hours with clashes in eastern Ukraine.