The U.S. is reportedly preparing to issue sanctions against pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine as Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenUS calls on North Korea to halt ‘unlawful and destabilizing’ missile launches Wendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden’s ‘hard-nosed’ Russia negotiator Pacific tsunami threat recedes, volcano ash hinders response MORE travels to the region to address ongoing Russian military aggression at the border.
U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal that the country is planning on sanctioning Ukrainian separatists, a move that officials say indicates the White House’s hesitation to directly act against Russia.
According to the Journal, the sanctions will freeze the assets of at least four individuals.
“We do not preview or comment on potential sanctions. We have no further comment at this time,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.
The Treasury Department declined to comment.
News of these potential sanctions against pro-Russian Ukrainians comes as Blinken travels to Ukraine this week.
During his trip, Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “reinforce the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price, and will also meet with employees at the U.S. Embassy and their families to discuss contingencies in case of escalation from Russia.
More than 100,000 Russian troops are believed to have been amassed at the Ukrainian border, leading to concerns that Russia is planning an invasion of its western neighbor. Russia has denied that it is planning such an invasion.
At the end of his diplomatic trip, Blinken will also travel to Berlin, Germany, to discuss ways of deterring Russian aggression against Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Blinken also spoke with his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, stressing the U.S.’s commitment to Ukrainian sovereignty. The two diplomats are scheduled to meet in Geneva later this week to continue discussion on Ukraine.