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You're reading: Serhiy Leshchenko: U.S. sanctions’ legal basis already in place

In November 2013, Ukrainska Pravda published a confidential letter from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. This was a friendly and optimistic letter – there was a promise to help with getting funds from the IMF, the reboot of a dialogue and even some hints about a proper meeting with President Barack Obama.

But Yanukovych forced Washington to completely change its evaluation of the Ukrainian president due to events that happened from October to December 2013. For the U.S. government, Yanukovych transformed into an aggressive and occasionally ‘inadequate’ authoritarian leader who is ready to drown his own country in blood in order to preserve his power, which provides him with uncontrolled enrichment.

These transformations have consequences. Sanctions are an instrument of last resort that halt relationships with a country. It is hard to approve such decisions but the United States has this experience. In contrast to the European Union, which must approve a decision only after acquiring the unanimous consent of all 28-member states, Washington is capable of reacting swiftly.

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