Open thread: Obama to speak on Ukraine after imposing sanctions

posted at 10:40 am on March 17, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama will speak live at 10:45 ET today to discuss the American reaction to the Crimean plebescite yesterday, and the imposition of sanctions on Russia. Those emerged this morning after a flurry of diplomatic efforts failed to turn Vladimir Putin from his course to annex the Crimean peninsula:

This new authority expands upon E.O. 13660, which the President signed less than two weeks ago, by authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to impose sanctions on named officials of the Russian government, any individual or entity that operates in the Russian arms industry, and any designated individual or entity that acts on behalf of, or that provides material or other support to, any senior Russian government official.  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.

In response to the Russian government’s actions contributing to the crisis in Ukraine, this new E.O. lists seven Russian government officials who are being designated for sanctions.  These individuals are Vladislav Surkov, Sergey Glazyev, Leonid Slutsky, Andrei Klishas, Valentina Matviyenko, Dmitry Rogozin, and Yelena Mizulina.

The United States also will seek to hold accountable individuals who use their resources or influence to support or act on behalf of senior Russian government officials.  We recognize that the Russian leadership derives significant support from, and takes action through, individuals who do not themselves serve in any official capacity.  Our current focus is to identify these individuals and target their personal assets, but not companies that they may manage on behalf of the Russian state.

In addition to the new E.O., the Treasury Department today has imposed sanctions on four other individuals under E.O. 13660, issued on March 6, for their actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine and in undermining the Government of Ukraine.  They are Crimea-based separatist leaders Sergey Aksyonov and Vladimir Konstantinov; former Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Viktor Medvedchuk; and former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych.

Missing from this list: Vladimir Putin. As head of state, the US would be loathe to apply sanctions directly to him, but Obama is striking pretty close to home anyway, Mark Knoller notes:

NBC reports that the administration is selling this as the toughest action against Russia since the Cold War:

President Barack Obama issued new sanctions against Russia on Monday, making good on his threat to punish the Russian government over its actions in Ukraine.

The White House announced a series of sanctions targeting a group of individuals, including senior aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. A senior administration official described the seven individuals targeted by the sanctions as “cronies” of the Russian government.

“These are by far and away the most comprehensive sanctions applied against Russia since the end of the Cold War,” a senior administration official said in a conference call to detail the sanctions.

Expect that to be the message from the podium today, too.

Update: Obama struck a pretty solid tone, but did hold out hope for talks between Ukraine and Russia to deal with Crimea separatism. That’s an easy thing to say, and is appropriate while trying to de-escalate the situation. However, no one at the White House can really believe that Putin wants to enter into talks with Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and this still may not be enough to keep Russian tanks from rolling all the way up to the Dniepr.


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Meow

Bmore on March 18, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Barry has Vlad right where he wants him. Get ready to be sucker punched Vlad, our man is the Man. Obama is playing with you. Show some respect.

steveracer on March 18, 2014 at 11:46 AM

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