Obama Announces First Sanctions On Russians And Crimeans Involved In The Ukraine Crisis

The White House on Thursday announced visa restrictions on Russian and Crimean individuals directly involved in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

President Barack Obama also issued an executive order authorizing and outlining additional sanctions and visa restrictions on individuals and entities responsible for “undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine.”

In a statement, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the executive order serves as “a flexible tool that will allow us to sanction those who are most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea, and does not preclude further steps should the situation deteriorate.”

A senior Obama administration official said Thursday that the White House would not list specific individuals targeted today. But the “authority is in place,” the official said. The sanctions would include freezing assets and blocking U.S. businesses from the individuals and entities.

The White House action comes as much of the West is grappling with a response to the still-escalating situation in Ukraine. On Thursday, the crisis accelerated again, as the Crimean parliament voted unanimously to join Russia, pre-empting a Western response. Ukraine’s new government has said the a move is not legitimate.

In a letter to Congress accompanying the executive order, Obama called the Ukraine crisis an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

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