The Obama administration is retaliating against Russia for Sunday's secession referendum in Crimea by rolling out financial sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials.
Monday's move would freeze any assets under U.S. jurisdiction and block those in the United States from doing business with or supporting the sanctioned individuals. A senior administration official said the Russian officials "played a leading role as an ideologist, strategist, or an architect of the referendum strategy."
The Russian individuals are Vladislav Surkov, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin; Sergey Glazyev, a presidential adviser to Putin; Leonid Slutsky, state Duma deputy; Andrei Klishas, a member of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation; Valentina Matviyenko, head of the Federal Council; Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister of Russia; and Yelena Mizulina, the state Duma deputy.
The administration also announced sanctions under an executive order signed earlier this month against four Ukrainian officials: Sergey Aksyonov, who says he is the prime minister of Crimea; Vladimir Konstantinov, the speaker of the Crimean parliament; Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of Ukrainian Choice—a pro-Russia organization; and Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted Ukrainian president.
Separately, the European Union is rolling out sanctions against 21 individuals, but that list hasn't been made public yet.
Although Putin isn't directly targeted—which a senior administration said would be "highly unusual" at the start of sanctions—the official said they "expect that these sanctions will be effective, and … that they'll be effective on a number of different levels."
An administration official added that the sanctions target the wealth of "Russian government cronies."
The sanctions announcement isn't overly surprising. U.S. officials—including Secretary of State John Kerry—have long warned that if the referendum took place, sanctions would be rolled out.
And the increasing tensions between the United States and Russia aren't likely to go away anytime soon. Putin is expected to use a speech Tuesday to seek a formal annexation of Crimea.
If Russia takes further steps, the officials said that the United States is prepared to expand its sanctions, but at the same time they said they are continuing to speak with their Russian counterparts to discuss if, and how, the situation can be resolved diplomatically.
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