Following Sunday’s referendum vote in Crimea to break from Ukraine and join Russia, President Obama on Monday announced a series of new sanctions. (Video at end of this post).
U.S. President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on 11 Russians and Ukrainians on Monday blamed for Moscow’s military seizure of Crimea, including ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, and Vladislav Surkov and Sergei Glazyev, two aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin himself, suspected in the West of trying to reconstitute as much as possible of the former Soviet Union under Russian authority, was not on the blacklist.
In Brussels, the EU’s 28 foreign ministers agreed on a list of 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials to be subject to travel bans and asset freezes for their roles in the events.
The EU did not immediately publish their names. Washington and Brussels said more measures could follow in the coming days if Russia does not back down and formally annexes Crimea.
“Today’s actions send a strong message to the Russian government that there are consequences for their actions that violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including their actions supporting the illegal referendum for Crimean separation,” the White House said.
A senior Obama administration official said there was “concrete evidence” that some ballots in the Crimea referendum arrived in some Crimean cities pre-marked.
Speaking from the White House this morning, President Obama said, “as I told President Putin yesterday, the referendum in Crimea was a clear violation of Ukrainian Constitutions and international law, and it will not be recognized by the international community.”
Obama then went on to outline “a series of measures that will continue to increase the cost on Russia and on those responsible for what is happening in Ukraine.”
Among those measures are sanctions on a number of specific individuals and entities, as well as continued consultations with European partners on additional measures.
From Obama’s statement Monday (transcript from the Washington Post):
First, as authorized by the executive order I signed two weeks ago, we are imposing sanctions on specific individuals responsible for undermining the sovereignty, territorial integrity and government of Ukraine. We’re making it clear that there are consequences for their actions.
Second, I have signed a new executive order that expands the scope of our sanctions. As an initial step, I’m authorizing sanctions on Russian officials, entities operating in the arms sector in Russia, and individuals who provide material support to senior officials of the Russian government. And if Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions.
Third, we’re continuing our close consultations with our European partners, who today in Brussels moved ahead with their own sanctions against Russia.
[…] Fourth, we’ll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world. The international community will continue to stand together to oppose any violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia’s diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russian economy.
The President closed by saying that he believed there was still a way to resolve the situation diplomatically to meet the interests of both Russia and Ukraine, under certain conditions.
“That includes Russia pulling its forces in Crimea back to their bases, supporting the deployment of additional international monitors in Ukraine and engaging in dialogue with the Ukrainian government, which has indicated its openness to pursuing constitutional reform as they move forward towards elections this spring,” Obama elaborated. He then promised, “we’re going to stand firm in our unwavering support for Ukraine.”
(Featured image: YouTube, CBS New York)