On Monday, March 17, President Barack Obama put sanctions on 11 Russians and Ukrainians who were responsible for Russia’s invasion in Crimea. Of those 11, two were top aids to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama announces that the U.S. is prepared to put more sanctions on Russia – but he wants to try the diplomatic road first…
The sanctions represent a crucial turning point in U.S.-Russian relations… since the Cold War. They are a clear, visible sign that the United States is angry with Russia’s invasion in Crimea. Just a day after Crimea’s referendum that aimed at allowing Russia to annex the region, an executive order was signed by Obama. According to the United States, the referendum is deemed as illegal and will never be recognized by Washington. Obama spoke on the sanctions on March 17.
For now, the order freezes any assets in the Unites States of seven Russian government officials, along with four Crimea-based “separatist leaders.” In addition to the asset freeze, the 11 individuals are also banned from travel into the United States.
Key ranking government officials were targeted by the sanctions: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Russian Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov and Russian Presidential Adviser Sergey Glazyev. Not to mention, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, along with two state Duma deputies, Leonid Slutsky and Yelena Mizulina were all included.
These are the most comprehensive sanctions applied to Russia since the Cold War, per senior administration officials – who brief reporters on the penalties. One senior official argues that the executive order creates a path for sanctioning people who allied with the Russian arms industry. In other words “the personal wealth of cronies” of the Russian leadership should keep their eyes open because they’re most likely next on Obama’s target list.
Of all the key players sanctioned by Obama, Putin was, in fact, not one of them. It’s highly unusual to target a head of state, according to a senior Obama administration official. Earlier this month, the administration announced its arrangements for sanctions, but individuals weren’t named until Monday, March 17.