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Breaking News: Ukraine and EU sign deal as US Russia trade sanctions

The European Union (EU) and Ukraine have signed association deal. Ukraine’s Interin PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk has signed an association deal with the EU in Brussels, according to the BBC. This is the same deal that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych reneged upon in November, which has led to the current situation.

This association deal will provide Ukraine economic and political support. Once Ukraine holds her presidential election in May, then free trade will be included in the agreement. Reuters reports that as part of the agreement, the European Commission has agreed to extend nearly 500 million euros worth of trade benefits to Ukraine. It will also remove customs duties on a variety of agricultural goods and other imports. This should escalate the Ukraine’s economic standing, making her even more independent. It also sends a message to Russia and her Napoleonic leader Vladimir Putin.

Yesterday, Russia issued sanctions against several US officials, including deputy national security adviser Benjamin Rhodes; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Mary Landrieu, D-La.

These US officials are all now part of “the hottest club in DC,” tweets the Wall Street Journal.

Senator Reid warns Putin via Twitter: President Putin, it's one thing to pick on me, but I wouldn't mess with Mary. @SenLandrieu #SanctionedByPutin.

#SanctionedByPutin will not stop me as @SenateEnergy chair to promote #USA as energy superpower & help ↑ energy exports to ↓ Russian power,” tweets Se. Landrieu.

These sanctions are in obvious retaliation after the US and the EU placed sanctions on Russian officials. The US has also targeted the Bank Rossiya. The St. Petersburg based lender is the first included in sanctions. Russian stocks dropped as two credit reporting agencies have downgraded the country’s rating from stable to negative.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the sanctions on Russia “irrational,” according to the Voice of Russia.

Russian Prime Minister Medvedev has now also claimed that Ukraine now owes Russia $11 billion in gas payments, according to the BBC.

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