Source: CNN

The United States imposed visa sanctions on two Russian military officials due to their “involvement in gross violations of human rights” in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday.

Russian Armed Forces Col. Azatbek Omurbekov, also known as “The Butcher of Bucha,” and Guard Corporal Daniil Frolkin were sanctioned for involvement in the extrajudicial killings of civilians from Andriivka, Ukraine, Blinken said in a statement.

“As a result of today’s action, Omurbekov, Frolkin, and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States,” the top US diplomat said.

Omurbekov was the commanding officer of Russia’s 64th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade when it controlled Andriivka, and he “led the brigade to Bucha, Ukraine, where the Department of State determined that the 64th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade killed, beat, dismembered, burned, and conducted mock executions of civilians,” according to the statement.

The State Department sanctioned the entire unit in June 2022 for human rights violations.

In December, CNN interviewed a former soldier in the brigade who deserted in September 2022 and fled to Europe.

“There are maniacs who enjoy killing a man. Such maniacs turned up there,” he said.

Blinken said in his statement Monday that “the reports that Omurbekov and Frolkin were involved in gross violations of human rights, as documented by NGOs and independent investigations, are serious and credible.”

“By publicly designating Omurbekov and Frolkin, the United States reaffirms its commitment to upholding human rights, acknowledging the injustice experienced by victims and survivors, and promoting accountability for those responsible for human rights violations,” he said.

The announcement of the new visa sanctions comes on the same day that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made a surprise trip to Ukraine to emphasize continued US support to the nation.

Senior defense officials, in a briefing with traveling press, emphasized the critical nature of Austin’s visit and the message it sends that the US will continue to support Ukraine despite other challenges, specifically in the Middle East with Israel’s fight against Hamas.

As part of his trip, Austin announced an additional $100 million in security assistance for Ukraine. He stressed the need for Congress to pass President Joe Biden’s supplemental funding request, which would provide assistance for both Ukraine and Israel.

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