Obama Rolls Out Visa Bans in Anti-Putin Retaliation

But the administration has yet to target any individuals.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures during his meeting with Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in Putin's Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, on March 5, 2014.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
March 6, 2014, 4:44 a.m.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion sent Rus­sia a warn­ing shot Thursday, say­ing it will tar­get in­di­vidu­als and groups tied to the crisis in Ukraine with fin­an­cial sanc­tions and visa bans.

The State De­part­ment will block visas needed to travel to the U.S. for Ukrain­i­an and Rus­si­an in­di­vidu­als who it be­lieves have threatened the “sov­er­eignty and ter­rit­ori­al in­teg­rity of Ukraine,” White House press sec­ret­ary Jay Car­ney said.

The visa bans are in ad­di­tion to the 20 Ukrain­i­an of­fi­cials tar­geted by the de­part­ment for the gov­ern­ment’s crack­down against demon­strat­ors last month.

Pres­id­ent Obama also signed an ex­ec­ut­ive or­der that will al­low fin­an­cial sanc­tions against in­di­vidu­als and of­fi­cials who have un­der­mined the Ukrain­i­an gov­ern­ment, vi­ol­ated the coun­try’s ter­rit­ori­al in­teg­rity, mis­used state funds, or tried to take con­trol of part of the coun­try without the ap­prov­al of the gov­ern­ment in Kiev, a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said.

The of­fi­cial ad­ded that these sanc­tions can tar­get Ukrain­i­an and Rus­si­an in­di­vidu­als, or those who have provided sup­port or are con­trolled by them.

Car­ney called the ex­ec­ut­ive or­der “a flex­ible tool that will al­low us to sanc­tion those who are most dir­ectly in­volved in destabil­iz­ing Ukraine, in­clud­ing the mil­it­ary in­ter­ven­tion in Crimea.”

And though no in­di­vidu­als have yet been hit with the sanc­tions or a visa ban, an­oth­er seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial stressed, “This au­thor­ity is now in place. and we will be look­ing to use it as ap­pro­pri­ate.”

The State De­part­ment can also re­voke visas if a tar­geted in­di­vidu­al already has one. 

“We’ve been pre­par­ing very quickly this ex­ec­ut­ive or­der; we be­lieve that there need to be costs and con­sequences for Rus­sia for what they’ve already done in Crimea,” a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said, adding that in­di­vidu­als in­volved in the re­cent ten­sions should be “on no­tice.”

Thursday morn­ing’s an­nounce­ment is the latest move by the U.S. gov­ern­ment to try to isol­ate Rus­sia for its in­cur­sion in­to Crimea. The Pentagon an­nounced earli­er this week that it sus­pen­ded all dir­ect mil­it­ary in­volve­ment with Rus­sia.

How Thursday’s de­cision will im­pact Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin’s de­cision mak­ing is murky at best. As a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said earli­er this week, “We in this ad­min­is­tra­tion have made it a prac­tice to not look in­to Vladi­mir Putin’s soul.”

What We're Following See More »
Rubio May Run for Reelection After All
11 hours ago
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
14 hours ago

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
16 hours ago

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
17 hours ago
California: It’s Not Over Yet
17 hours ago

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.