Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday underscored his unwavering support for Ukraine, hours before receiving Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba in Washington amid escalating tensions with Russia.
In a telephone conversation early this morning, Blinken stressed Kuleba Washington’s swift response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize the alleged independence of the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine’s Donbas region 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 hold a press conference this afternoon at the State Department in Washington at 15.15 local time (20.15 GMT).
President Joe Biden on Monday signed an executive order banning new investment, trade, and other economic transactions by American institutions and citizens in Donetsk and Luhansk, an action intended to isolate those two regions from the international financial system based on the U.S. dollar.
The executive order also prohibits the import into the United States 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 the Russian military in Donetsk and Lugansk, 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 Kyiv and Moscow have been rising since last November, after Russia stationed tens of thousands of troops near the Ukrainian border, triggering alarms in Ukraine and the West, which denounced preparations for an invasion.
The situation has worsened in recent hours with clashes in eastern Ukraine.