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Obama speaking about Russian sanctions 3-17-14
President Obama announced promised sanctions Monday.
President Barack Obama announced an executive order imposing sanctions Monday against seven Russian and four Ukrainian officials that the administration blames for the Russian Federation's military actions in Ukraine and separatist activity there. The sanctions do not include Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sanctioning a head of state would be highly unusual, a senior White House official said. You can read a transcript of the president's announcement here.

Peter Baker reported:

“These are by far the most comprehensive sanctions applied to Russia since the end of the Cold War—far and away so,” said one of the officials, who under the ground rules of the briefing was not permitted to be identified.
The sanctions freeze the personal assets that any of the 11 have in the United States and bars granting visas for their travel to the States.

The action came a day after Crimeans voted under military occupation in a referendum with Stalinesque results: A 75 percent turnout with 96.8 percent favoring becoming part of the Russian Federation, officials said. Both questions on the referendum amounted to the same thing. At least one group, the Crimean Tatars—who now make up perhaps as much as 20 percent of the Crimean population since their repatriation after decades of exile under Stalin's orders—had called for a boycott of the referendum. Polls in 2011 showed 33 percent of Crimeans of all ethnic backgrounds in support of joining the federation, and another showed that figure had dropped to 23 percent in 2013.

More on Obama's new sanctions on Russia below the fold.

The Crimean government declared itself independent on Monday and, if the Russian parliament agrees, would become an independent republic in the federation. Under Ukraine, Crimea has operated as an autonomous province.

Neither the European Union nor the United States recognizes the legitimacy of the vote. Russia vetoed a U.S.-drafted motion Saturday in the U.N. Security Council declaring the referendum invalid. China abstained.

Putin and Obama sparred over the referendum in a telephone call on Sunday, according to Jon Swaine and Alan Yuhas of The Guardian. The Kremlin later put out a release saying that Putin had told Obama that the situation in Crimea matches the requirements of the “Kosovo precedent.” In 2008, the former Yugoslavian territory was recognized as a sovereign state and that could serve as a model for other separatist movements, Putin was cited as saying.

If Russia continues its intervention, Obama said Monday, "we stand ready to impose further sanctions." Given how quickly the lower house of the Russian parliament seems ready to move in accepting Crimea's application to become part of the federation, more sanctions seem likely.

The sanctioned individuals are: Putin's aide Vladislav Surkov and adviser Sergei Glazyev; Russian deputy prime minister Dmitri Rogozin; state Duma deputies Leonid Slutsky and Yelena Mizulina; Valentina Matviyenko, the head of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation; Andrei Klishas, a member of of the Federation Council; ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich; Sergey Aksyonov, who claims to be the prime minister of Crimea; Vladimir Konstantinov, the speaker of the Crimean parliament that voted to secede from Ukraine; and Viktor Medvedchuk, leader of Ukrainian Choice, a separatist group.

Later today, Vice President Joe Biden will head off for a trip to Eastern Europe to reassure leaders of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia and reinforce statements and actions already made that the administration does not take Russian's actions in Ukraine lightly. Obama himself will head to Europe next week.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 11:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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