Ukraine's Zelensky says he presented plan to intensify sanctions on Russia

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Ukraine's Zelensky says he presented plan to intensify sanctions on Russia

The Ukrainian president said that he presented a plan to intensify sanctions on Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he presented a plan to impose more sanctions on Russia and discussed extra military aid with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Kiev on Sunday.

Zelensky outlined that the talks lasted more than three hours and described them as reassuring and, what is also important, efficient. The president said the sides discussed sanctions on Russia and agreed on further steps to strengthen the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

We need to block Russia's capabilities to bypass sanctions. Zelensky said that we provided our partners with a plan to increase sanctions against the Russian Federation. He said the proposal was designed by a group led by Andrey Yermak, the head of Zelensky's office and former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

Zelensky said international security guarantees for Ukraine were discussed. He said that the US can become a leader among the states that will be the future guarantors of Ukraine's security.

Blinken and Austin told reporters that they pledged more military aid to Ukraine and continued diplomatic support. On Monday, President Joe Biden named Bridget Brink, who is currently serving as the US ambassador to Slovakia, the next ambassador to Ukraine. Since the beginning of 2019, there has not been a confirmed US ambassador to Ukraine.

The State Department said diplomats will return to the city of Lviv in western Ukraine this week before moving back to Kiev as soon as possible. Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to retake the two republics by force.