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White House Blocks Visas for Some Tied to Ukraine Crisis

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The White House, toughening its response to the crisis in Crimea, said Thursday that it has revoked the U.S. visas of Russians and Ukrainians responsible for “threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

It also threatened financial sanctions against people or companies that the United States determines are responsible for undermining the Ukrainian government.

A senior administration official said that the number or names of revoked visas would not be made public. The official also said that no people or companies have yet been sanctioned.

But the steps represented the latest attempt by the administration to grapple with President Vladimir Putin’s deployment of Russian troops into the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, an incursion that the West has condemned.

Asked whether Putin himself would be sanctioned, a senior administration official said: “It is an unusual and extraordinary circumstance to sanction a head of state, and we would not begin our designations by doing so.”

The White House announcement came hours after the regional parliament of Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and become part of Russia.

The United States has also suspended trade talks and military cooperation with Russia and is putting on hold its plans to attend the G-8 summit in Sochi, Russia, in June.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers were both committed to working the crisis out by talking.

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