U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a speech from the lawn of the White House Thursday regarding the crisis in Ukraine, where he announced the U.S. government was imposing new sanctions against Russia.
"We've seen an illegal referendum in Crimea, an illegitimate move by the Russians to annex Crimea, and dangerous risks of escalation including threats to Ukrainian personnel in Crimea and threats to southern and eastern Ukraine as well. These are all choices the Russian government has made, choices that have been rejected by the international community, as well as by the government of Ukraine. And because of these choices, the United States is today moving -- as we said we would -- to impose additional costs on Russia."
Those costs, the president announced, will be imposed through additional sanctions.
Building upon Executive Order (E.O. 13660), signed on March 6, Obama has sanctioned more senior officials in the Russian government in response to Russian actions taken in Crimea. "In addition," he said, "we are today sanctioning a number of other individuals with substantial resources and influence who provide material support to the Russian leadership, as well as a bank that provides material support to these individuals."
In response to Russian military emplacements that "could lead to further incursions into southern and eastern Ukraine," the president said he has worked closely with European partners "to develop more severe actions if Russia continues to escalate the situation."
Those severe actions led the president to sign a new Executive Order "that gives us the authority to impose sanctions not just on individuals but on key sectors of the Russian economy. This is not our preferred outcome. These sanctions would not just have a significant impact on the Russian economy, but it could also be disruptive to the global economy. However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community."
Despite the imposition of additional sanctions, Obama emphasized:
"Diplomacy between the United States and Russia continues. We've emphasized that Russia still has a different path available, one that deescalates the situation, and one that involves Russia pursuing a diplomatic solution with the government in Kiev, with the support of the international community.
"The Russian people need to know -- and Mr. Putin needs to understand -- that the Ukrainians shouldn't have to choose between the West and Russia. We want the Ukrainian people to determine their own destiny, and to have good relations with the United States, with Russia, with Europe, with anyone that they choose.
"That can only happen if Russia also recognizes the rights of all the Ukrainian people to determine their future as free individuals and as a sovereign nation, with rights that people and nations around the world understand and support."