Obama Says Putin Must Pull Back on Crimea Annexation

Another day, another ‘line’ drawn in the sand.

President Barack Obama today imposed sanctions on seven top Russian government officials and four others from Ukraine and warned Russia will face more penalties if it doesn’t pull back from Crimea.

“Continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia’s diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russian economy,” Obama said at the White House. The U.S. can “calibrate our response” based on whether Russia chooses “to escalate or to de-escalate the situation.”

The U.S. action, the latest in the most serious confrontation between Russia and the west since the end of the Cold War, were made in concert with the 28-member European Union, which imposed its own set of penalties. The U.S. also included a ban on travel visas.

The seven Russian officials, which include top aides or advisers to Russian President Vladimir Putin, are Vladislav Surkov, Sergey Glazyev, Leonid Slutsky, Andrei Klishas, Valentina Matviyenko, Dmitry Rogozin, and Yelena Mizulina.

Four other people, allies of the Russian government, were the made targets of U.S. Treasury sanctions under a previous Obama executive order. They are Crimea-based separatist leaders Sergey Aksyonov and Vladimir Konstantinov; former Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Viktor Medvedchuk; and former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych.

White House officials told reporters on a conference call today that sanctions on the four Crimean separatists are aimed at the personal wealth of Russia’s supporters. The U.S. isn’t ruling out additional sanctions, officials said. The U.S. has the ability to escalate pressure, said one of the officials, who were not authorized to speak on the record beyond the official notice.

“We’ll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing, except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world,” Obama said.

Full article: Obama Says Putin Must Pull Back on Crimea Annexation (Bloomberg)

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