US threatens to ‘bleed’ Russia if it disrupts Ukraine vote
by The Daily Lede
Kiev: The United States warned Russia on Thursday of stepped-up Western sanctions to make its economy “bleed” if it disrupts a crucial presidential election in Ukraine just 10 days away.
Ukraine’s interim leaders are battling to keep the country together for the May 25 vote in the face of a bloody insurrection in the east and a tense standoff with former master Russia.
Kiev on Wednesday hosted the first round of so-called national unity talks under an OSCE initiative to try to resolve the crisis on Europe’s eastern flank and allow the vote to go ahead.
Crucially, however, the pro-Moscow rebels fighting against Kiev’s rule in the industrial east of the country were not at the table, despite Western calls for inclusive talks.
A US official told reporters in London that Washington and its allies are working “to send a unified message to pro-Russian separatists and Moscow that any disruption of these elections will result in the next round of costs for Russia including sectoral sanctions”.
President Barack Obama has already drafted an executive order to impose sanctions across key sectors such as banking, energy, defence and mining, adding to punitive measures already imposed by Washington and Brussels.