POLITICS: PennAve

US bans travel visas for key Ukrainian officials, cautious on 'truce'

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,Russia,PennAve,State Department,Foreign Policy,Ukraine,Visas

The State Department on Wednesday said Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's declared “truce” with opposition leaders offered a “little glimmer of hope,” but said it was still moving to ban travel visas for 20 senior members of his government.

A senior State Department official said the sanctions would be imposed against the Ukrainian officials most responsible for bloodshed on the streets of Kiev.

“We will watch whether this truce holds and whether they are able to move on to political compromise,” the senior State Department official said in a conference call with reporters.

The official said the ban on visas was reversible depending on how talks play out in Ukraine. The State Department said it could not legally provide the names of the individuals denied visa issuance.

The Ukrainian government’s call for a truce comes a day before foreign ministers from Germany, Poland and France will travel to Ukraine. Some analysts are skeptical the truce will last beyond that meeting.

Earlier Wednesday, President Obama blamed the Ukrainian government for the growing violence.

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the violence that’s taking place. And we have been deeply engaged with our European partners as well as the Ukrainian government and the opposition to try to ensure that that violence ends,” said Obama in Toluca, Mexico, where he is attending the North American Leaders Summit.

“We hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible,” the president said, adding that the U.S. would “be watching closely and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters.”

Even amid talk of a truce, the U.S. official continued to hammer Russia for not doing more to prevent the bloodshed in Ukraine.

“The Russians,” the senior State Department official said, “have not been transparent about what they’ve been doing in Ukraine.”

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