First on CNN: Ukrainian troops take up defensive positions
February 19th, 2014
06:40 PM ET

First on CNN: Ukrainian troops take up defensive positions

By Barbara Starr

Ukrainian military forces have moved into defensive positions around bases and weapons depots in the past few hours, according to a U.S. defense official familiar with the latest intelligence.

The move is seen by the United States as an effort to ensure the military's facilities remain secure.

So far, the move appears to mainly involve Ukraine military personnel, with no widespread movement of armored vehicles.

All of that is leading to the preliminary U.S. assessment that the move is defensive.
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Filed under: Security Brief
February 19th, 2014
05:46 PM ET

Obama condemns Ukraine violence, warns of consequences

By Elise Labott and Tom Cohen

President Barack Obama condemned the violence in the Ukraine, saying Wednesday the United States expected the government to show restraint against protesters and warning there would be consequences for excessive action.

Later, the United States said it would won't issue visas for 20 senior members of the Ukrainian government and others responsible for the violent crackdown this week in the capital of Kiev, a senior State Department official told reporters on a conference call.

That development came as the Ukrainian government and the opposition announced a truce to allow for negotiations to restart with the aim at stabilizing the situation, the official said.

In Mexico for a summit with the leaders of Canada and the host country, Obama said that "we're going to be watching closely and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protestors."

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Sources: Airlines warned to beware of possible shoe bombs
The shoes used in a failed attempt to blow up a passenger plane in December 2001 are displayed at a 9/11 exhibit in 2011
February 19th, 2014
05:45 PM ET

Sources: Airlines warned to beware of possible shoe bombs

By Evan Perez and Jim Sciutto

The U.S. government has warned airlines to pay particular attention to the possibility of terrorists attempting to hide explosives in shoes, a result of new intelligence, according to two people familiar with the situation.

The officials stressed there is no specific threat or known plot.

Intelligence collected by the United States and other countries has indicated terror groups have been working on new shoe-bomb designs, the sources said Wednesday.

That knowledge prompted the Department of Homeland Security to warn airlines to be on the lookout for possible explosives hidden in shoes on flights from overseas to the United States, they said.

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U.S. weighs possible sanctions, braces for further violence in Ukraine
February 19th, 2014
05:40 PM ET

U.S. weighs possible sanctions, braces for further violence in Ukraine

By Elise Labott

As the United States puts the finishing touches on possible sanctions against Ukraine, senior Obama administration officials tell CNN they are bracing for the government to intensify its crackdown against anti-government protestors under pressure from Russia.

The officials describe an escalating situation on the ground with both Ukraine and Russia branding the protestors as terrorists. That would suggest the Ukrainian government is planning to impose a state of emergency, giving the military extraordinary powers to further the crackdown.

"Things have gotten very bad," one official said. "The government is speaking in very nasty, aggressive and confrontational terms. It signals they are prepared to do something."

The officials said there was progress over the past week for a political solution, but things soured in recent days since President Viktor Yanukovych met with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.
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Kerry raises idea of sanctions against Ukraine government
February 19th, 2014
09:27 AM ET

Kerry raises idea of sanctions against Ukraine government

A senior administration official told CNN that Secretary of State John Kerry will raise the specter of sanctions on the Ukrainian government in remarks in Paris within the next couple hours.

The official said Kerry will reiterate Vice President Joe Biden's message to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych that his government must protect its people and that Kiev can either choose dialogue and compromise or violence and mayhem.

The official said the U.S. is closely coordinating its response with allies and friends, including the very real potential of sanctions.