President Obama today signed an executive order that froze the assets and imposed travel bans on numerous Russian and Ukrainian officials believed to be responsible for Russia’s imposition on Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula.
A number of Putin’s top aides were targeted in the order though no sanctions were imposed on Putin himself.
Obama’s statement on Russian and Ukrainian Officials
“We’re making it clear there are consequences for these actions,” the president stated in a televised statement in the White House briefing room this morning. “The international community will continue to stand together to oppose any violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Obama once again said that there is still plenty of room for Russia to reverse its course of action. “Going forward, we can calibrate our response based on whether Russia chooses to escalate or de-escalate the situation,” he said. “Now, I believe there is still a path to resolve this situation diplomatically.”
The move came as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. prepares for his trip to the Balkans and Poland, countries that are certainly concerned with Russia’s moves in the Ukraine.
Among those sanctioned were Vladislav Surkov, Putin’s so-called “Gray Cardinal”; Sergei Glazyev, an economist who has been advising Mr. Putin on Crimea; Valentina Matviyenko, chairman of the Federation Council, the upper house of Parliament; and Dmitry Rogozin, a deputy prime minister.
On the Ukrainian side of the sanctions the United States froze the assets of Sergei Aksyonov, the newly declared prime minister; and Vladimir Konstantinov, the newly declared speaker of its Parliament. It also targeted Viktor F. Yanukovych, the pro-Russian Ukrainian president deposed in February.
Russian and Ukrainian Officials: Europe and NATO statement
The signing of the Executive Order came just hours after the European Union placed similar sanctions of 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials and after NATO released a statement calling the vote “illegal and illegitimate,” adding that the buildup to the vote was “deeply flawed and therefore unacceptable.”
The vote today followed what the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called a “a military invasion by Russia,” when forces seized a natural gas facility just outside the Crimean Peninsula.
With Crimea dependent on the Ukraine for all its energy needs, many believe that the move was made in order to supply the now secessionist region in the event of an energy shutdown by the government in Kiev.