Obama Strikes Back at Russia With Sanctions Over Ukraine

The administration also targeted ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Matryoshka dolls in the likeness of then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Obama stand on display at a souvenir stall St. Petersburg in 2010.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
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Jordain Carney
March 17, 2014, 6:57 a.m.

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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