Kerry heads to Ukraine as West ponders sanctions

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry will be reinforcing U.S. support for the new government in Kiev, as the U.S and its top allies grapple with whether to slap Moscow with sanctions for its military takeover of Ukraine's strategic Crimea region.

Kerry left Monday for the Ukrainian capital. The European Union's foreign ministers, meantime, issued a Thursday deadline for Russia President Vladimir Putin to pull back his troops or face a rejection of visa liberalization and economic cooperation negotiations long in the works.

Sanctions from the European Union would cut off Russian exports of natural gas, uranium and coal to its largest customer. Still, Western governments acknowledge that there are few options beyond economic and diplomatic penalties. Critics said Obama administration efforts are too little, too late.

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