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U.S. Imposes Sanctions On Russian, Crimean Officials



Published on 18 March 2014



by Merle David Kellerhals Jr.

(WireNews)

Washington, D.C.

The United States has imposed economic and political sanctions against 11 high-ranking Russian and Crimean officials responsible for the regionally destabilizing Crimean crisis.

President Obama on March 17 announced sanctions against seven of the most senior Russian officials directly responsible for supporting Crimea’s vote for secession from Ukraine. The U.S. Treasury Department also imposed sanctions against four Ukrainian officials, including former President Viktor Yanukovych.

“I’m announcing a series of measures that will continue to increase the cost on Russia and on those responsible for what is happening in Ukraine,” Obama said. “And if Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin was not included in the initial round of sanctions because the United States does not usually begin with heads of state, U.S. officials said.

European Union foreign ministers in Brussels imposed similar travel bans and asset freezes against 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine following the March 16 Crimean secession referendum.

Obama also said Vice President Biden would leave Washington late March 17 for meetings in Warsaw, Poland, with the president and prime minister of Poland, and in Vilnius, Lithuania, with the presidents of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia — all NATO allies. The U.S. president is scheduled to travel to Europe in the week of March 24 for extensive meetings with NATO allies and European leaders.

NATO announced March 17 that it was increasing cooperation with Ukraine, including “increased ties with Ukraine’s political and military leadership, strengthening efforts to build the capacity of the Ukrainian military.” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya met with NATO leaders in Brussels to request greater technical assistance and equipment in light of the Crimean secession vote and the Russian military intervention.

While imposing sanctions, Obama emphasized diplomatic measures still can be employed in ways that will satisfy both Russia and Ukraine without causing an irreparable rift in European relations. Additional sanctions are expected if Russia acts to annex Crimea.

“Going forward, we can calibrate our response based on whether Russia chooses to escalate or to de-escalate the situation,” Obama said in the White House press room. “I believe there’s still a path to resolve this situation diplomatically in a way that addresses the interest of both Russia and Ukraine.

“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 added.

The sanctions came hours after voters in the Crimean region of Ukraine voted in a referendum to split from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The Crimean Parliament voted March 17 to declare the region an independent state. Immediately following the legislative vote, a delegation of Crimea’s parliament left for Moscow for meetings with Russian lawmakers on how to proceed with the annexation process, a step news media have reported could come within days.

In a fact sheet, the White House said that actions taken March 17 serve notice to Russia that unless it abides by international obligations and returns to pre-referendum conditions and respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the United States is prepared to take further measures.

The sanctions order list includes:

• Vladislav Surkov, presidential adviser to President Putin.

• Sergey Glazyev, presidential adviser to Putin.

• Leonid Slutsky, a state Duma deputy and chairman of the Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration, and Relations with Compatriots.

• Andrei Klishas, a member of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and chairman of the Federation Council Committee of Constitutional Law, Judicial, and Legal Affairs, and the Development of Civil Society.

• Valentina Matviyenko, head of the Federation Council.

• Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation.

• Yelena Mizulina, state Duma deputy.

• Sergey Aksyonov, prime minister of Crimea’s regional government.

• Vladimir Konstantinov, speaker of the Crimean parliament.

• Viktor Medvedchuk, leader of the Crimea separatist group Ukrainian Choice and a close friend of Putin.

• Viktor Yanukovych, former president of Ukraine, who fled Ukraine to Russia and supported the dispatch of Russian combat troops into Ukraine.

 

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Posted 2014-03-18 10:01:00