President Barack Obama on Thursday announced a new round of expanded sanctions in response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
The additional sanctions target 20 Russian officials and influential individuals, as well as a Russian bank, according to Obama’s statement and a list published by the Treasury Department. These follow an initial round of sanctions announced earlier in the week that targeted 11 Russian and Ukrainian individuals.
Speaking from the South Lawn of the White House Thursday, the president again denounced Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine, including its move to annex Crimea, and he outlined additional sanctions the United States would be imposing in response.
“Over the last several days, we’ve continued to be deeply concerned by events in Ukraine,” Obama said. “We’ve seen an illegal referendum in Crimea, an illegitimate move by the Russians to annex Crimea, and dangerous risks of escalation, including threats to Ukrainian personnel in Crimea and threats to southern and eastern Ukraine as well. These are all choices that the Russian government has made, choices that have been rejected by the international community, as well as the government of Ukraine.”
“And because of these choices, the United States is today moving – as we said we would – to impose additional costs on Russia. Based on the executive order that I signed in response to Russia’s initial intervention in Ukraine, we’re imposing sanctions on more senior officials of the Russian government. In addition, we are today sanctioning a number of other individuals with substantial resources and influence who provide material support to the Russian leadership, as well as a bank that provides material support to these individuals.”
The president’s announcement came shortly after Russia’s lower house of parliament on Thursday approved a treaty to annex Crimea from Ukraine.
Russia’s lower house of parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a treaty to annex Crimea from Ukraine, leaving just one legal obstacle for the Black Sea peninsula to cross before it is formally absorbed by Moscow.
Only one deputy in the State Duma voted against the treaty, and the Federation Council upper house is expected to complete ratification on Friday, signed by President Vladimir Putin and Crimean leaders on Tuesday.
The State Duma chamber stood for the national anthem after the vote, approved by 443 deputies in an almost full chamber.
“From now on, and forever, the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol will be in the Russian Federation,” pro-Kremlin lawmaker Leonid Slutsky said in an address before the vote.
The draft treaty was signed earlier this week by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Referencing more severe actions that could be taken if Russia continues to escalate the situation, Obama said he had also approved a new executive order Thursday that would give his administration the authority to impose further sanctions “not just on individuals, but on key sectors of the Russian economy.”
“This is not our preferred outcome,” Obama said. “These sanctions would not only have a significant impact on the Russian economy, but could also be disruptive to the global economy. However, Russia most know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community.”
The president concluded his statement by emphasizing that Russia can still choose a different path.
“Let me close by making a final point. Diplomacy between the United States and Russia continues. We’ve emphasized that Russia still has a different path available, one that deescalates the situation and one that involves Russia pursuing a diplomatic solution with the government in Kiev, with the support of the international community. The Russian people need to know and Mr. Putin needs to understand that the Ukrainians shouldn’t have to choose between the West and Russia. We want the Ukrainian people to determine their own destiny, and to have good relations with the United States, with Russia, with Europe, with anyone that they choose. That can only happen if Russia also recognize the rights of all the Ukrainian people to determine their future, as free individuals and as a sovereign nation. Rights that people and nations around the world understand and support.”
UPDATE: After the time of this writing but prior to publication of this post came this news: Russia sanctions 9 US officials in response to US sanctions on Russian officials.
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