President Obama imposed tougher sanctions on Russia yesterday for its provocations in Ukraine, targeting some of Russia’s largest companies and financial institutions as Moscow builds up more troops along the Ukraine-Russian border and stands accused of supporting the separatist movement in Ukraine over the past several weeks.
President Obama made it clear that the new sanctions are being issued due to Russia’s support for separatists in Ukraine and violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
“Along with our allies, with whom I’ve been coordinating closely the last several days and weeks, 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 cease-fire; that Russia needs to pursue internationally-mediated talks and agree to meaningful monitors on the border” President Obama said on Wednesday before reporters.
The new sanctions target some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest business allies and prevents Russian oil companies such as Rosneft Oil, gas producer Novatek, and Gazprombank from accessing American capital markets.
“We are freezing the assets of several Russian defense companies. And we are blocking new financing of some of Russia’s most important banks and energy companies” Obama said on Wednesday.
Also included in the sanction list are a state owned bank, VEB, several Russian defense companies, and four Russian government officials.
President Obama said that the actions are being taken in close consultation with our European allies and the sanctions are “designed to have the maximum impact on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies or those of our allies.”
But the response from leaders of the European Union in Brussels has been less confrontational thus far, targeting only wealthy Russian individuals and new development loans to Russia.
European Union leaders have told Putin in recent weeks to stop sending troops and weapons across the border into Ukraine while encouraging a cease fire.
Washington claims that up to 12,000 Russian troops have returned to the Ukrainian-Russian border and Russian weapons are crossing the border to arm the separatists.
Russian President Putin responded to the U.S. imposed sanctions and spoke to reporters from Brasilia where he was gathered in a meeting with other leaders from BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China).
“Sanctions have a boomerang effect and without any doubt they will push U.S.-Russian relations into a dead end, and cause very serious damage, and it undermines the long term security interests of the U.S. State and its people” he told reporters.