West pulls punches on sanctions for Russia over Crimea. EU whittles down list of targets

Both the US and European Union held back Monday, March 17, from harshly punishing Russia for going through with the Crimean referendum, which overwhelmingly approved union with Russia. The US imposed travel bans and froze the assets of seven top Russians and three Ukrainians, while the European foreign ministers in Brussels listed 21 mostly unnamed targets for those same sanctions for a period of six months.

President Barack Obama warned Moscow not to go any further but rather to engage in dialogue for resolving the Ukraine crisis diplomatically.

The Russian officials targeted for US sanctions were close to President Vladimir Putin:

Speaker of the upper house of parliament Valentina Matviyenko;

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin;

Putin’s personal advisers Vladislav Surkov and Sergey Glazyev;

The EU foreign ministers meeting in emergency session in Brussels pared their original list of 121 names for sanctions to 21, whose names they refused to divulge except for the commander of Russia’s Black Fleet, Alexander Vitko. Ten are members of the Russian parliament, three are military commanders and eight Crimean officials. They were barred entry to European countries and their assets frozen for six months. Some of the targets no doubt withdrew their assets from European financial centers in good time.

The foreign ministers were careful to exclude such powerful Russian economic figures as Gazprom head Alexei Miller and Rosneft head Igor Sechin from the list of sanctions. Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz indicated earlier that the Europeans would not make the mistake of picking on Russian “business bosses.”

Full article: West pulls punches on sanctions for Russia over Crimea. EU whittles down list of targets (DEBKAfile)

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