The US slapped visa ban on 20 senior Ukrainian officials and other people it accused of being behind a violent crackdown on protestors in the capital city of Kiev.
"We move to ban visa issuance to some 20 senior members of the Ukrainian government and other individuals" held accountable for "human rights abuses related to political repression in Ukraine", Xinhua quoted a senior State Department official as saying Wednesday.
The official, under the condition of anonymity, declined to name those denied entry to the United States, but said: "The list includes the full chain of command that we consider responsible for ordering the violence."
The official saw "a little glimmer of hope" in a truce reached Wednesday night between President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders, but warned of sanctions on Ukrainian officials "in a much broader and deeper way" in case of continued violence.
"In the event that things go well, these visa sanctions that we've put in place are reversible," the official said, adding, "But in the event that they do not go well, there are other steps we can take in close coordination with the EU in coming days."
Protests in Ukraine, which began last November to back the country's European integration, turned violent in mid-January. On Tuesday night and in the early hours of Wednesday, at least 26 people died in Kiev in street clashes between riot police and protestors.