Apr 25, 2014 11:43 AM

U.S. gives Russia ultimatum

WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State John Kerry is warning that Russia needs to take immediate steps to ease tension in Ukraine or it will make an "expensive mistake."

That's an apparent reference to additional sanctions.

Kerry charges that Moscow is using separatist sentiment to foment unrest in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow has responded by accusing the U.S. of encouraging the new pro-Western government to adopt anti-Russian policies.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - President Barack Obama has held a conference call with leaders from Germany, France, Britain and Italy to discuss possible responses to the crisis in Ukraine.

In advance of that call, Obama told reporters in South Korea that the U.S. and Europe are preparing sanctions that would hit broad sectors of Russia's economy, in case Moscow invades eastern Ukraine. So far, the U.S. has slapped sanctions only on individuals.

Unless there's a full-on military incursion, Obama indicated that Russia won't see the beefed-up sanctions. There are concerns that the sanctions could ricochet and hurt U.S. allies in Europe that do business with Russia.

Obama told reporters, "We'll continue to keep some arrows in our quiver in the event we see further deterioration."

Following the phone call, the French president's office said the leaders stressed the importance of implementing the agreement reached last week in Geneva that was supposed to ease tensions in Ukraine. They also discussed the prospect of new sanctions.

As if to underscore the costs of sanctions that have already been imposed, the credit agency Standard & Poor's today cut Russia's credit rating for the first time in more than five years.


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