President Obama Announces Sanctions Against Russia

Penalties aimed at President Putin's inner circle are the most comprehensive since the Cold War.
3:00 | 03/17/14

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Transcript for President Obama Announces Sanctions Against Russia
This is a special group. Plump dance company -- this ABC news -- special report less than 24 hours at the Crimea voted itself out of Ukraine. And into the arms of Russia US is hitting back president Obama's signing an executive order hitting -- Moscow officials with a raft of new economic sanctions. So with the latest on go to Washington DC -- ABC's Karen Travers is standing by Karen. Good afternoon Dan President Obama has been issuing threats for weeks -- Vladimir Putin has not backed down today the White House announced these significant sanctions but top Russian officials dismissed them. In fact the deputy prime minister there asked if a Joker came up with these sanctions. Yesterday in -- highly expected move -- overwhelmingly voted to break off from Ukraine. And today the highly expected response from the west we are imposing sanctions on specific individuals responsible for undermining the sovereignty. Territorial integrity and government of Ukraine and to. He's target Vladimir Putin's inner circle and they're the most comprehensive aimed at Russia since the end of the Cold War. Also today the twenty nations of the European Union agreed to travel and financial restrictions on 21 people from Russia and Crimea. The US and its European allies have been saying for weeks that the Crimea referendum vote was a violation of international law and would not recognized. But that didn't stop the more than 97%. Of Iranians that reportedly voted to -- Russia. I'm Russian anti I want to -- in Russia and it's a real quality it's a real event TDs one of the most important pieces of uniform my -- -- now is what happens next. Threats from Washington in Europe have had little sway over Putin Russian forces already control Crimea. And all signs indicate it will now formally annexed the peninsula continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine will only. -- Russia's diplomatic. Isolation. And exact a greater told on the Russian economy. President Obama said today this is not -- if Russia continued to intervene in Ukraine in the US will be ready to slap more sanctions -- Hi Karen thank you for that of course I wanna go to the White House now -- ABCs and papers is standing by mayor what are what hospitals. Saying about these sanctions just exactly how tough are that. They believe they're sending a very clear message here -- and you heard the president say that they're making clear that there are consequences for their actions. Now in total this targets fourteen Russian and Ukrainian officials as -- district parents think this is really intended. To -- Putin's inner circle to send a message. Does the White House described them -- cronies those that prop up president Putin's administration and the east policies here but. It hasn't yet to be seen whether this really have much of an -- and as Karen mentioned there one of them Russian officials question whether or not this was a joke. So how long have these been in the works and -- if the Russians don't stand -- we expect perhaps more as the president alluded to. Well the president has been saying for weeks now that there wouldn't -- -- if Russia did not back down now of course these new sanctions come. That day after Crimea voted to go ahead and -- -- Russia the -- you heard President Obama say this morning that they will take further actions if Russia does not. Would play out but we do know that if -- Crimea goes ahead and tries to annex itself and rejoin -- that we should expect to see more from this White House but again what exactly that looks like we don't know yet. And in the president's word that he was -- to know that there was in fact despite it all away out. That would allow the Putin government to it affects a face in front its own people -- -- play that. I believe there's still a path to resolve this situation diplomatically. And -- that addresses the interest of both Russia and Ukraine. That includes Russia pulling its forces. In Crimea back to their -- supporting the deployment of additional international monitors in Ukraine. And engaging in dialogue with the Ukrainian government. Which is indicated its openness to pursuing constitutional reform as they move forward. Towards elections this spring. So Mary what are the odds that Putin will back off the -- of Crimea. Well the White House continues to say that it's hopeful the president who will go ahead and accept this off ramp off ramp option excuse me -- the keeper for into it. This would mean as the president said bringing -- international monitors. Having negotiations between Russian and other international partners but this idea that this administration and and other European partners have been promoting for a few weeks now and -- is no sign the Russian president Vladimir Putin has any interest in taking that off. Going back one administration and there -- diplomatic relationship between Russia when Russia invaded Georgia the Bush Administration. Did not follow through on threats to deliver sanctions is there any feeling right now that the Russians in fact we're surprised by this action by this administration. I think they saw it coming given everything that this administration has said in the run up to taking this action but. There's no question this is the most comprehensive and harsh sanctions from the US against Russia since the Cold War as you mentioned. The Bush Administration did not take steps nearly this -- during during the crisis with Georgia so it definitely send a clear signal it's just a question now whether it's enough of -- -- to go ahead. And incite further action from the Russians. ABC's neighbors outside a snowy White House this Monday morning Mary thank you -- that about a Russian now. Moscow where ABC's care Roddy is monitoring this story. If you're the president signing off -- some sanctions against a specific individuals in Russia who are they what are their ties to president Vladimir Putin. Well this is a variety of officials here are some of them are in the in the -- as aides to the president. One of them is one of the -- -- one of the top ideologues in the in the Kremlin somebody who has been. -- really what the people who is crafted image over the years. Another person as a debate humor goes -- he's a hawkish deputy prime minister actually somebody who's good friends as Steven seagull who's come over to Russia and number of times. So regular people -- lawmakers people who have according to US official did it responsible for human rights violations. In Russia one of them. Was the -- co author of -- -- -- propaganda law became outlast yourself a bit of a two for one on that front they're not only related to the Ukraine situation. Russia's deputy prime minister was on Twitter after the president had made that statement he didn't necessarily seem impressed. By the reactions which is -- by the by the forthright comments by the president asking President Obama back. What effect the sanctions would -- and officials who don't keep their money in overseas accounts no property and for broad. Or you didn't think about that. Without a bit of a surprise then by US officials to get that kind of response to continue on I think some -- -- prepare the draft of this act. Of the US president. -- I think. I think that they knew exactly what they would do with the sanctions and -- -- -- -- they. These are not hard hitting sanctions let me get that out of the way right away I mean -- are -- great people on the Russian -- -- on the first list there. -- our guest there there -- sort of in the inner circle there but these are not. Top top officials. And head coach has clearly made the calculation that he's willing to withstand any sort of pressure he anticipated all these things obviously they've been talked about for a long time. And -- clearly I think the White House knew that going into it. They do have other sort of arrows in their quiver that they can use again as -- that if they decide to go ahead with the annexation of Crimea and I think that that's. A foregone conclusion at this point. We may see additional -- at that point it may start getting tougher where I do think that they are really worried about whether -- really have to come out. And make stronger steps on is if we see the Russians trying to move into eastern Ukraine. It's a totally different situation and wondered where the White House will clearly have to make some bigger steps some bigger sanctions that we'll have to affect their economy in a certain way. But again I think -- has made the calculation that whatever cost the US and the Europeans are willing to 222 and -- on him that he's willing to pay. Mary I want to bring you back into this US obviously has economics -- in this in this game but the -- to stick with you that. The US still doesn't want to endanger its own ties to Russian money cannot freeze assets inside Russia so. Effectively. This is -- at a preliminary round of sanctions but in fact the -- could get a little more forceful later on. Yeah I think that's exactly what it is is that this is a preliminary round I -- the Russians were laughing it off if they were worried that -- be more things. In this particular round but again you know if if this continues they beat the White House will have to respond. More forcefully. Whether that will be enough to do to stop couldn't I I'd rather skeptical to be honest with you I don't know if there's much that they can do that -- really stop him from at least annexing idea again. The question whether they would move to Craig that it easily have been made it -- -- way to win if they're able to convince him that these costs are too high. Remains to be seen if that's the case right now but to answer your question yes there are US companies that had massive interest. It Russia ExxonMobil for example is doing a -- extremely lucrative. Oil exploration deal in the Arctic you've got -- that hasn't design center in Moscow and gets. Clinton's raw materials from Russia so -- -- US companies are very wary about these sanctions as. As well and economy it will not. Not just be the Russian economy -- suffers if there are tougher sanctions in place and these sanctions the response by the United States but what about other countries particularly the EU -- spend their response and reaction. Well as -- reported there are 21 officials. That the Europeans have sanctions today they're gonna be announcing the in the future exactly who those officials are get -- there's some overlap -- the officials that were announced today according to US officials. But they're at they're going to have to escalate their efforts as well you know the Europeans -- even more vulnerable. The Americans -- terms of their -- -- the impact of sanctions if they do go after. Companies and and entities in the Russian government. You know Germany and the Netherlands get and large percentage of their energy from Russia and of course their economies are much more tightly intertwined. Speaking of the region that has the center of this Crimea the Crimean parliament ratifying yesterday's referendum right away. But it seems they also pass some laws as well that would speed things along if and when they do become a part of Russia -- that a surprise move. No I think this speaks to the -- that everybody sort of -- where this is going to this is eventually going to happen -- you know President Putin is supposed to speak tomorrow. And we're expecting him to make you know perhaps make a move. To say that this will back go ahead at the annexation of -- -- will have to go through some stats but. You know -- the -- -- have have already announced they're going to adopt the the Ruble Russian currency. As their secondary currency later this year eventually to replace it and they're already gonna move their cost two hours ahead to join Moscow time. All right ABC's care Roddy with the developments there monitoring from Moscow Kara thanks so much appreciate it and -- pushing give up at the store in real time. By downloading the ABC news app and star in this story you'll get exclusive updates. On the go for now though I'm -- that's our New York this scene that special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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