Monday morning, the White House announced its second set of sanctions imposed against Russian and Crimean government officials and "cronies" due to the recent referendum passed in Crimea announcing the region's intentions to separate from Ukraine and join with Russia.
President Obama has signed an executive order which will block the financial assets and suspend any travel visas for certain Russian officials deemed to be supporting actions detrimental to Ukraine's international sovereignty.
In all, 11 Russian and Crimean officials were targeted by the sanctions:
- Vladislav Surkov: Presidential Aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Sergey Glazyev: Presidential Adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Leonid Slutsky: State Duma deputy; Chairman of the Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration, and Relations with Compatriots
- Andrei Klishas: Member of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and Chairman of the Federation Council Committee of Constitutional Law, Judicial, and Legal Affairs, and the Development of Civil Society.
- Valentina Matviyenko: Head of the Federation Council
- Dmitry Rogozin: Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.
- Yelena Mizulina: State Duma Deputy.
- Sergey Aksyonov: Interim Prime Minister of Crimea
- Vladimir Konstantinov: Speaker of the newly-formed Crimean parliament
- Viktor Medvedchuk: Leader of Ukrainian Choice, a pro-Russian Ukrainian civilian group.
- Viktor Yanukovych: Former Ukrainian President
“We have fashioned these sanctions to impose costs on named individuals who wield influence in the Russian government and those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine. We stand ready to use these authorities in a direct and targeted fashion as events warrant," stated a release from the White House regarding the sanctions.
The sanctions come on the heels of a referendum passed on Sunday in which 97 percent of Crimeans voted to separate from Ukraine and join Russia. The referendum also established an independent Crimean government separate from the interim government currently functioning in Ukraine.
Following the passing of the referendum on Sunday, President Obama called Vladimir Putin to address the illegality of such a referendum being passed and supported by the Russian government. The reasons for the call were to remind Russia that its actions were in obvious violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and "that a diplomatic resolution cannot be achieved while Russian military forces continue their incursions into Ukrainian territory and that the large-scale Russian military exercises on Ukraine’s borders only exacerbate the tension."
The territorial dispute over Crimea is a fall-out from the tension between Ukraine and Russia following the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych, the former President of Ukraine and pro-Russian supporter, due to Yanukovych's failure to sign an economic deal partnering with the EU and instead succumbing to Russian coercion.
Following said ousting and the establishment of an interim Ukrainian government, Russia started sending troops to Crimea in order to "protect" ethnic Russians who were supposedly being persecuted by Ukrainian nationals. As it stands, no evidence has been given to support such a claim.
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