Russia responds to U.S. sanctions with entry bans for U.S. leaders

March 20, 2014 at 2:45 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- Russia responded to new U.S. sanctions over the annexation of Crimea by barring nine U.S. legislators and security officials from entry Thursday.

The Russian list was topped by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Hill reported. Others on the list included Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics Caroline Atkinson, senior White House adviser Daniel Pfeiffer, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Dan Coats, R-Ind.

President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the administration would impose "additional costs" on Russia for its actions on Crimea, sanctioning 20 more Russian leaders and individuals, and a bank.

Obama said Russia made choices in recent days that have been rejected by the international community, including the "illegal" secession referendum in Ukraine's breakaway Crimea region, an "illegitimate move" to annex Crimea, and "dangerous risks of escalation" including threats to Ukrainian military personnel in Crimea and threats to southern and eastern Ukraine as well.

"And because of these choices, the United States is today moving, as we said we would, to impose additional costs on Russia," Obama said.

The U.S. Treasury, in a release announcing the sanctions, said the actions were taken against 16 Russian government officials, four members of the Russian leadership's inner circle and Bank Rossiya pursuant to Obama's March 16 executive order.

Obama signed a new executive order Thursday that gives the United States the authority to impose sanctions on key sectors of the Russian economy if deemed necessary in the future. He did not elaborate on which sectors could be sanctioned, but said the moves "could also be disruptive to the global economy."

"The basic principles that govern relations between nations in Europe and around the world must be upheld in the 21st century. That includes respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity," Obama said.

"[Nations] do not simply redraw borders or make decisions at the expense of their neighbors simply because they are larger or more powerful," Obama said.

While the actions taken Thursday were in response to Russia's provocative action in Crimea, Obama said the international community was watching "with grave concern as Russia has positioned its military in a way that could lead to further incursions into southern and eastern Ukraine."

He said the United States was working with its European partners to develop further actions that could be taken if Russia "continues to escalate the situation."

Obama also urged Congress to pass legislation to assist Ukraine.

The president said he would use his trip to Europe next week to reinforce the message Vice President Biden delivered this week: "America's support for our NATO allies is unwavering. We're bound together by our profound ... commitment to defend one another and by a set of shared values ... ."

He said diplomacy between the United States and Russia continued.

Several of the U.S. leaders sanctioned by Russia issued statements saying they were happy to be on the list, the Hill reported.

"While I'm disappointed that I won't be able to go on vacation with my family in Siberia this summer, I am honored to be on this list," Coats said.

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