New Russian Sanctions, President Obama on Thursday announced new economic sanctions against Russian government officials, influential individuals and a Russian bank, threatening to come back with tougher penalties if Moscow does not deescalate the crisis in Ukraine.
“Further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community,” Obama said in remarks on the South Lawn of the White House. The U.S. is concerned that “Russia has positioned its military” in a threatening way, he added.
The president said the new sanctions would target additional senior Russian government officials, other individuals with “substantial resources and influence,” and a bank. He also signed an executive order that would allow him to slap broader sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy, a move that “is not our preferred outcome,” Obama said, acknowledging that such sanctions could be “disruptive” to the global economy.
A short time after Obama’s statement, Russia announced that it was imposing entry bans on nine U.S. lawmakers and officials in retaliation for Washington’s sanctions over Crimea, the Associated Press reported.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s list included House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The new U.S. sanctions will hit 16 Russian government officials, members of Putin’s inner circle and Bank Rossiya, the bank used by many senior officials of the Russian Federation.
The government officials who were targeted are high-ranking bureaucrats and lawmakers who publicly backed Putin’s call to use Russian forced to occupy Crimea, according to the Treasury Department, which issued a statement identifying the individuals who were sanctioned.
Those in Putin’s inner circle include Yuri Kovalchuk, the largest shareholder of Bank Rossiya and Putin’s personal banker; Gennady Timchenko, a founder of a commodity trading company involved in the oil and energy markets; and Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg, brothers who made billions on Putin-awarded contracts with Gazprom, the state-controlled energy company, and the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The new penalties build on sanctions the U.S. and European Union announced Monday in a last-ditch attempt to keep Russian President Vladimir Putin from formally annexing Crimea. Those penalties, targeting just a handful of Russian and Ukrainian officials, did nothing to shift Putin’s course. Administration officials have since promised more would be coming.