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Jun 18, 2015

cdn.static-economist.com_2015-06-18_22-26-32Sputnik News

Director of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control John Smith says that the United States is prepared to heighten economic pressure on Russia if conditions in Ukraine continue to deteriorate.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States is prepared to heighten economic pressure on Russia if conditions in Ukraine continue to deteriorate, Director of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) John Smith said on Thursday.

“Should the situation arise, we and our allies are prepared to increase the costs on Russia, costs we hope will deter [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, if things get worse,” Smith said in a speech to the Venable LLP law firm in Washington, DC.

The United States has threatened to increase its use of targeted economic sanctions against Russia if the multilateral Minsk ceasefire agreements continue to be violated.

Moscow has repeatedly denied western allegations of Russian involvement in the Ukrainian conflict and accused Kiev of violating key provisions of the Minsk agreements.

Smith described future economic sanctions as measures “to incentivize Russia to comply with the parameters of Minsk.”

The second Minsk Accord was signed in February 2015 by Ukraine, Russia, France, Germany, and representatives from the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

The agreement lays out a ceasefire followed by political steps including greater autonomy and rights for ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.In the four months since the second Minsk agreement was signed, international observers in Ukraine have identified ceasefire violations from both Ukraine government forces and independence supporters in eastern Ukraine.

The United States, European Union, and other Western countries initially levied sanctions on Russian individuals and companies following the March 2014 reunification of Crimea with Russia.

Russian officials have argued a drop in oil prices rather than unproductive Western sanctions have had an impact on the country’s economy.

OFAC is the office within the US Treasury responsible for sanctions.

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