March 6 - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov as new sanctions are announced in response to developments in Ukraine. Nathan Frandino reports.
Once again, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry, are meeting over another divisive issue: Ukraine. The two are in Rome for a conference. Their meeting comes as President Barack Obama announces new actions against those responsible for the escalation of events in Ukraine, including troop movements in Crimea. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING: "Starting today, at President Obama's direction, the State Department is putting in place tough visa restrictions on a number of officials and other individuals. And the United States will not grant visas to those who threaten the territorial sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine, and if they already have one, it will be revoked." In addition, the Treasury Department is issuing economic sanctions against those same individuals. Russia has repeatedly denied responsibility for troops in Crimea, calling the soldiers members of self-defense groups instead. Kerry says the preference remains dialogue. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING: "And we will absolutely consider, if we have to, additional steps beyond what we've done, but our preference - the president has said this and I have said this - is to emphasize the possibilities for the dialogue that can lead to the normalization and diffusing of this crisis." The sanctions come as the Moscow-backed government in Crimea sets a referendum, which Obama has called unconstitutional.