|White House Readies Sanctions Against Ukraine|
|Jonathan Karl||Feb 20, 2014, 6:50 PM|
The Obama administration is putting together a package of sanctions the president could likely put in place by Friday, ABC News has learned.
These sanctions would directly target individuals in the Ukrainian government believed to be responsible for the violence unfolding in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. The sanctions would include freezing assets and measures designed to cut these individuals off from the international banking system. The measures would be similar to those imposed over the past several years on individuals in the Iranian government.
Unlike the visa/travel restrictions imposed Wednesday on 20 unnamed members of the Ukrainian government, the administration will name names, White House officials said.
The White House did not say whether President Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin today, but that there are high-level contacts between the U.S. and Russia on the situation in Ukraine.
The Russians have denounced the sanctions imposed by the European Union earlier today and are expected to react similarly when U.S. sanctions are imposed.
President Obama has consulted with allies on the situation in Ukraine, calling German Chancellor Angela Merkel today, White House officials said, adding that Vice President Joe Biden continued his outreach to Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, speaking to him today for the third time in two weeks.
"The Vice President strongly condemned the violence against civilians in Kiev," The White House said. "He called upon President Yanukovych to immediately pull back all security forces - police, snipers, military and paramilitary units, and irregular forces."
"The Vice President made clear that the United States is prepared to sanction those officials responsible for the violence," the White House added, noting that Biden, "underscored that the United States supports an independent, democratic Ukraine that pursues the future its people choose."
ABC News' Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.
An anti-government protester holds a Ukrainian flag as he advances through burning barricades in Kiev's Independence Square, Feb. 20, 2014. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)