US envoy: Push for more sanctions over Russian seizure of Ukrainian vessels is gaining traction

The U.S. envoy to the conflict in Ukraine said Monday that the push for sanctions on Russia over its aggression toward the Ukrainian navy last month is "gaining some traction."

Reuters reported that U.S. diplomat Kurt Volker said in an online briefing that in Europe, "the notion that there needs to be a response and some additional sanctions ... seems to be one that’s gaining some traction."

He added that it's possible sanctions could be doled out in "the next month or two."


Moscow has been under international scrutiny after an incident last month in which Ukraine claimed Russia opened fire on some of its ships near Crimea.

Ukraine's Navy said Russian ships opened fire on Ukranian military boats in the Kerch Strait, hitting two vessels and injuring multiple crew members. Russia then seized both ships and a tugboat, Ukraine said.

Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, said it seized the ships for illegally sailing into Russian territorial waters. 

U.S. and international officials condemned Russia for its actions, while Ukrainian officials expressed concern the clash could presage a larger-scale attack.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, prompting significant international backlash and sanctions against Moscow. The U.S. and most other nations have not recognized Russia's annexation of Crimea as legitimate.