Sens. McCain And Murphy Working On Ukraine Sanctions Bill

A Magnitsky Act-style bill would target those behind violence that has killed dozens of protesters in Ukraine. Updated with statement from McCain and Murphy.

Stringer / Reuters

Updated — 4:28 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Sens. John McCain and Chris Murphy are writing a bill that would enact sanctions against people responsible for violence against anti-government protesters in Ukraine, two sources with knowledge of the bill told BuzzFeed.

“Folks are working on it,” a senior Senate aide said on Wednesday. “Would be targeted sanctions against individual Ukrainians responsible for ordering or carrying out violence against peaceful protesters, as opposed to blanket sanctions against Ukraine.”

The specific details of the bill are not yet clear. McCain and Murphy will announce the bill today, a source said. The two senators visited Ukraine in December to lend support to protesters who have been demonstrating against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to turn the country closer to Russia and reject a deal with the European Union.

Pressure to enact sanctions against Ukraine has mounted after dozens of anti-government protesters were killed and hundreds injured in clashes with police this week.

The violence is spurring condemnation from the highest levels of the U.S. government. President Obama is expected to address the Ukraine situation in public comments later on Wednesday.

“We have made it clear we would consider taking action against individuals who are responsible for acts of violence within Ukraine,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters on Air Force One on Wednesday. “We have a toolkit for doing that that includes sanctions.”

Secretary of State John Kerry also publicly raised the threat of sanctions in an appearance in Paris today.

The European Union is also weighing sanctions against those responsible for the violence.

The State Department has already enacted a number of visa bans against top Ukrainian officials.

“We have begun working together on legislation that would impose targeted sanctions on government officials and other persons who have committed, ordered, or materially supported acts of violence against peaceful citizens in Ukraine, or who are complicit in the rollback of Ukraine’s democracy,” McCain and Murphy said in a joint statement on Wednesday afternoon. “These sanctions should not, and will not, target the people or the country of Ukraine as a whole. Instead, they will be narrowly focused on those individuals who must be held accountable for violating human rights and undermining democracy. We remain in contact with the Administration and look forward to working together on this legislation.”

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