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U.S. backs Ukraine with $1 billion in energy aid

KIEV, Ukraine — Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev Tuesday to show U.S. support for the fledgling Ukraine government, and the Obama administration announced with his arrival a $1 billion energy subsidy package. The fast-moving developments came as the United States readied economic sanctions amid worries that Moscow was ready to stretch its military reach further into the mainland of the former Soviet republic.

Kerry arrived as the Ukraine government grapples with a Russian military takeover of Crimea, a strategic, mostly pro-Russian region in the country’s southeast, and as Russian President Vladimir Putin said he wouldn’t be deterred by economic sanctions imposed punitively by the West.

While on the ground, Kerry was planning to pay homage to the dozens of protesters who were slain Feb. 20 in anti-government demonstrations which culminated days later in the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.

As Kerry arrived, the White House announced the package of energy aid, along with training for financial and election institutions and anti-corruption efforts. U.S. officials traveling with Kerry, speaking on grounds of anonymity, said the Obama administration is considering slapping Russia with unspecified economic sanctions as soon as this week.

Additionally, the officials said, the U.S. has suspended what was described as a narrow set of discussions with Russia over a bilateral trade investment treaty. It is also going to provide technical advice to the Ukraine government about its trade rights with Russia. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be quoted by name before the official announcement was made.

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