Washington may apply further sanctions on Russia

The US Secretary of State has warned of further sanctions on Russia if it does not de-escalate tensions in Ukraine, BBC Reports.

In a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, John Kerry expressed “deep concern over the lack of positive Russian steps”.

In his conversation with Mr Lavrov on Tuesday, Mr Kerry “urged Russia to tone down escalatory rhetoric, engage diplomatically in the east… and issue public statements calling for those occupying buildings to disarm,” according to a senior State Department official.

“Secretary Kerry also reiterated that the absence of measurable progress on implementing the Geneva agreement will result in increased sanctions on Russia,” the official said.

The warning came after US Vice-President Joe Biden met Ukraine’s new leaders in Kiev, and called on Russia to “stop talking and start acting” to defuse the Ukraine crisis.

Meantime, the Kremlin ordered the removal of the first secretary at the Canadian Embassy in retaliation for the expulsion of a Russian military attache from Ottawa earlier this month. Russian media reported Tuesday that Margarita Atanasov of the Canadian diplomatic mission in the Russian capital has been given 14 days to leave the country, Voice of America reports.

Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird, told reporters Tuesday that Canada has a “moral responsibility” to stand with NATO and its allies in support of Ukraine in the face of Russian intimidation. He said Canada wants Ukraine to have “peace, prosperity, security, and freedom.”