Obama Announces Expanded Sanctions Against Russia

PHOTO: President Barack Obama speaks about foreign policy and escalating sanctions against Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, July 16, 2014.
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The Obama administration is imposing new, deeper sanctions on Russia for its intervention in Ukraine, targeting Russian banks and energy and defense firms.

“Given its continued provocations in Ukraine, today I have approved a new set of sanctions on some of Russia’s largest companies and financial institutions,” President Obama announced during a brief statement in the White House briefing room today.

“I’ve repeatedly made it clear that Russia must halt the flow of weapons and fighters across the border into Ukraine, that Russia must urge separatists to release their hostages and support a ceasefire, that Russia needs to pursue internationally mediated talks and agree to meaningful monitors on the border -- I’ve made this clear directly to Mr. Putin,” he said. “So far, Russia has failed to take any of the steps that I mentioned.”

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“These sanctions are significant but they are also targeted, designed to have the maximum effect on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies,” the president added. “The Russian leadership will see once again that its action has consequences.”

The sanctions were expanded in consultation with European allies, Obama said, noting that though the U.S. prefers diplomatic solutions, “we have to see concrete actions and not just words that Russia in fact is committed to trying to end this conflict.”

“Like any people, the Ukrainians deserve the right to forge their own destiny,” he said. “We're going to continue to stand with the Ukrainian people as they seek to determine their own future.”

The U.S. Department of the Treasury today imposed what it called “a broad-based package of sanctions on entities in the financial services, energy and arms or related materiel sectors of Russia, and on those undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty or misappropriating Ukrainian property.”

Among the firms targeted is Kalashnikov Concern, the company that makes AK-47s.

“Russia has continued to destabilize Ukraine and provide support for the separatists, despite its statements to the contrary,” Under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said in a statement.

“Because Russia has failed to meet the basic standards of international conduct, we are acting today to open Russia’s financial services and energy sectors to sanctions and limit the access of two key Russian banks and two key energy firms to U.S. sources of financing, and to impose blocking sanctions against eight arms firms and a set of senior Russian officials," Cohen said.

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