“The United States is today moving, as we said we would, to impose additional costs on Russia,” Mr. Obama said in a statement on the South Lawn of the White House before leaving on a trip to Florida.Earlier this week, the first targets of sanctions laughed them off. But with a bank now included and the possibility of the crucial Russian energy sector being included, the laughter may die down considerably. But that doesn't mean the sanctions will cause a retreat. In fact, if President Vladimir Putin's tough Russia-is-back speech before the Russian parliament Wednesday is any indication, the sanctions are only likely to harden the Kremlin's stance. As expected, Russia announced its own sanctions against selected U.S. lawmakers Thursday.
“These are all choices that the Russian government has made, choices that have been rejected by the international community,” he said.
Mr. Obama also said he had signed a new executive order that would allow him to impose sanctions Russian industrial sectors, presumably including its energy exports—a step that would dramatically tighten the economic pressure on Russia.
Even backed up by further sanctions, the objections of Washington and Brussels to the annexation of the Crimea are unlikely to reverse that fait accompli. Putin's speedy move to bring back into the fold the peninsula that he claims Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave away 60 years ago like a "sack of potatoes" was something the slow consultative processes of the European Union and NATO could not prevent. Restoring Crimea to Ukraine seems out of the question.
What the sanctions may do, however, is put the brakes on any Kremlin moves beyond Crimea, either in Ukraine or elsewhere among the old Soviet republics, assuming Putin has such plans, which he has indicated is not the case.