Politics

Obama Expands Russian Sanctions, Putin Answers With His Own Restrictions

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President Barack Obama added to the list of current economic sanctions against Russia on Thursday. Minutes later, the Kremlin answered by banning nine U.S. officials from entering Russia, according to the New York Daily News.

Among those officials was Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who responded with a couple of tweets poking fun at the new restrictions.

“I guess this means my spring break in Siberia is off, Gazprom stock is lost & secret bank account in Moscow is frozen,” the senator said on Twitter.

Obama announced the new sanctions just hours after Russia’s lower house of parliament ratified a treaty to make Crimea a part of the Russian Federation.

Speaking from the South Lawn of the White House, the president said, "This is not our preferred outcome.”

"These sanctions would not only have a significant impact on the Russian economy, but could also be disruptive to the global economy. However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community,” he continued during the prepared remarks quoted by USA Today.

The new sanctions target additional Russian officials with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bank Rossiya, a large bank in St. Petersburg. The Los Angeles Times reports that the new penalties build on those that were announced Monday by the White House after Crimea voted in a referendum to separate itself from Ukraine. Obama administration officials have warned that more sanctions are coming. 

Russia’s Federation Council, the upper house of the country’s parliament, is scheduled to vote on and complete ratification of the controversial treaty on Friday, according to CNN.

The sanctions have done little to slow Putin’s actions concerning Crimea, but it is hoped that they may influence him to not aggressively pursue annexing other parts of Ukraine. Leaders of other Eastern European countries have expressed concern over Russia’s recent moves.

Obama acknowledged Wednesday that his options are limited, and he is trying to avoid actions that could “trigger an actual war with Russia.” 

The administration sent Vice President Joe Biden to Eastern Europe this week to assure NATO allies that the United States was willing to stand up against aggressive acts by Putin.

Sources: New York Daily News, USA Today, LA Times, CNN

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