Sanctions on Russia fly
MOSCOW — The international crisis over Ukraine escalated sharply on Monday as the United States and Europe imposed sanctions on senior Russian political and military figures, and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing the Ukrainian region of Crimea as an independent state.
Both actions were taken in response to the referendum on Sunday in Crimea, where a reported 97 percent of voters said they wanted to become part of Russia. The Obama administration said the vote was rigged and discounted it as illegal.
Putin's decree, announced on the Kremlin website, was widely seen as a step toward the annexation of Crimea by Russia, a move that U.S. and European leaders have said would result in further punishment designed to cripple Russia's economy.
What has become the most serious U.S.-Russia confrontation in decades showed no sign of abating, and there was little indication that ongoing diplomatic efforts would succeed in finding a resolution.
Beyond Crimea, Putin has defied Western demands that he stop military exercises on Ukraine's eastern and southern borders, end what the West has called destabilizing actions by pro-Russian provocateurs in Ukrainian cities and open negotiations with Ukraine's interim government.
The West increasingly thinks Putin's actions in Crimea are part of a larger plan to impose his will on Ukraine, a former Soviet republic whose pro-Russian president fled the country last month in the aftermath of demonstrations in favor of joining the European Union.
“Further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia,” President Obama said in a statement announcing sanctions against seven Russian and four Ukrainian officials. The goals, Obama said, are “to isolate Russia for its actions, and to reassure our allies and partners” of American support.
The sanctions include asset freezes and travel bans on some of Putin's closest aides. The European Union separately announced sanctions on 21 individuals, including several Russian military commanders. The European list did not include Kremlin aides.
A senior administration official said the White House would not respond to Putin's decree recognizing Crimea as independent from Ukraine. Putin has scheduled a speech to the Russian parliament Tuesday morning.
Eastern European nations bordering Russia and Ukraine have been especially alarmed by the Russian moves. America has sent military assets to Poland and Lithuania, and Vice President Joe Biden is being dispatched to those countries to offer reassurance.
“These are by far the most comprehensive sanctions applied to Russia since the Cold War,” a second administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Far and away so.”
The seven Russians initially targeted include top Putin aides Sergey Glazyev and Vladislav Surkov, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, and leaders of parliament who have been outspoken in advocating Crimean annexation and belligerent policies toward Ukraine.
Under the sanctions, one U.S. official said, “all assets are frozen, no U.S. person can do business with them. ... If they want to transact in dollars, for example, they will be unable to do so.”
After the announcement, some of the targeted Russians mocked the move.
“I quite like the company I have found myself in,” Andrei Klishas, chairman of the Russian Federation Council's Constitutional Legislation Committee, told the Interfax news service.
Some Republican lawmakers criticized the administration's measures as insufficient. Sen. John McCain of Arizona called for “a far more significant response,” saying that sanctioning seven Russians “is wholly inadequate at this stage.” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas described U.S. policy toward Russia as “appeasement” and called for an expanded American military presence in Eastern Europe.
The EU announcement included asset freezes and travel bans on eight Crimeans, among them a Ukrainian naval commander who pledged allegiance to Crimea in the days before the referendum, and 13 Russians, including the commanders of the Crimea-based Black Sea Fleet and Russia's western and southern military districts.
The EU and U.S. lists have just four names in common: two top Crimean leaders who were instrumental in the drive for secession and two Russian legislators.
Some European officials said there would be more penalties imposed within days.
Still, EU heavyweights such as Germany and Britain have deep economic ties to Russia, and officials have spent days wrangling over whether the sanctions should hit at Putin's inner circle.
Anatol Lieven, a professor of international relations at King's College London, said the sanctions were highly unlikely to influence Putin's moves in Crimea and were instead aimed at the next flash point: eastern Ukraine.
“Crimea is lost. In practice, there's no way that Ukraine is ever going to get it back,” Lieven said. “The question now, and it's a vastly greater strategic question, is what happens in eastern Ukraine.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mines planted near plane crash site in Ukraine
- European Union adds Russian President Putin’s inner circle to sanctions list
- Israeli military hit U.N. refugee camp in school, killing 17
- Obama, European leaders agree to new Russia sanctions
- Strike on crowded Gaza area kills 16, wounds 150
- Landslide decimates Indian village, killing at least 17
- Venezuela officials shut out from travel to U.S.
- 47 killed in Taiwan plane crash; 11 hurt
- Fuel fire puts fight in Libya on hold
- Taliban leader issues warning
- Israel says it’s extending Gaza truce for 24 hours