Video: Obama announces new sanctions after Crimea annexation

posted at 12:01 pm on March 20, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

After several days of criticism over the lack of energy in Western sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea, Barack Obama attempted to up the ante a bit this morning. He announced an expansion of the individual sanctions already in place, and added a Russian bank to its enforcement. Obama also warned that further sanctions will aim at sectors of the Russian economy rather than individuals:

President Barack Obama says the United States is levying a new round of economic sanctions on individuals in Russia, both inside and outside the government, in retaliation for the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine.

Obama says he has also signed a new executive order that would allow the U.S. to sanction key sectors of the Russian economy.

NBC also reports that the warning is still just that — a warning:

President Barack Obama said Thursday that he has signed an executive order giving the United States authority to impose sanctions on “key sectors of the Russian economy” if necessary in light of Russia’s “dangerous risks of escalation” in Ukraine.

“These sanctions would not only have a significant impact on the Russian economy, but could also be disruptive to the global economy,” Obama warned. “However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community.”

Obama also announced that the United States will impose further sanctions on Russian individuals with “substantial resources and influence” on Russian leadership and on a bank that has provided “material support” to those individuals.

Stephen Hayes asked one of his resources on the region about the impact of this announcement, and got a disappointing answer:

https://twitter.com/stephenfhayes/status/446665771151024128

This belies an incremental approach that might have been more effective at the beginning of the crisis. It’s understandable that the White House wants to both protect the American economy from a trade war and allow Vladimir Putin a face-saving path to retreat from his aggression, but Putin clearly doesn’t want it. The editorial board at the Dallas Morning News wondered before this statement when Obama plans to catch up to reality, and it’s doubtful they heard anything encouraging this morning:

[T]his week’s wrist-slap sanctions to a handful of Putin advisers — but not Putin himself — yielded more mockery than concern in Russia. These followed by hours the kangaroo-court vote in Crimea — 97 percent! — to separate from Ukraine. And a day after that, in a shocking development, Russia voted to wrap Crimea in a mother-bear embrace.

And with each passing moment, the Western powers sound more and more ineffectual. Torrents of words, tiny actions. President Barack Obama sent Vice President Joe Biden to the region, which might have led our Eastern European allies to ask whether he brought some real sanctions with him.

Sorry, no, but words we got!

Obama’s sanctions, revealed in conjunction with the European Union, were intended to inflict economic pain to Putin and Russia. Obama refrained from calling Putin’s mother a hamster or noting that his father smelled of elderberries but did reserve the option to taunt him a second time. …

Ukraine, meanwhile, waves a 1994 treaty in which the U.S., United Kingdom and Russia pledged to respect its territorial boundaries and wonders if anyone remembers signing anything.

So far, Putin seems unfazed by the West’s tepid and incremental reaction. Russia has a few tricks up its own sleeve, too. They imposed a half-day ban on imports from Ukraine in retaliation, although it has apparently ended. Nevertheless, it demonstrates the reliance Ukraine has on Russia for its economy:

Russia halted all imports from Ukraine for about 12 hours early Thursday, raising fears of a full-blown embargo that could further cripple the country’s moribund economy, officials said.

Russian never fully explained what began or ended the disruptions, which left hundreds of trucks standing at the Ukrainian side of the border. Ukrainian officials said that Russian border-control officers began stopping Ukrainian trucks entering Russia after midnight Thursday, and that trade resumed at about noon.

Russia’s customs service denied that it had closed the border or stopped imports altogether, but said that it had “strengthened controls” at border posts because of information about imports of banned goods including weapons.

Ukraine fears an embargo on its exports to Russia, which has in the past punished neighbors for taking political positions deemed hostile to Moscow. During a chill in relations with Georgia, Russia banned Georgian wine and mineral water for putative quality-control issues. Last summer, Russia’s consumer watchdog stopped imports of Roshen candies, citing safety concerns. Roshen is controlled by Petro Poroshenko, a Ukrainian candy tycoon and pro-European politician.

Russia also issued warnings to Kyiv after Ukraine announced that Russian visitors would need to apply for visas. Moscow specifically warned Ukraine not to seize Gazprom property (after seizing Ukrainian bases in Crimea), saying such a move would lead to “a quite complex chain reaction, from which … Ukraine will not benefit.” Somehow, these warnings and threats seem a little more ominous than the individual sanctions being applied in the West.

Meanwhile, the Duma’s lower chamber has overwhelmingly voted to approve Crimean annexation, and the bill will go to their upper chamber tomorrow. The sanctions thus far have not produced much effect on Russian politics, as only one deputy in the Duma registered disapproval:

The vote in the State Duma to annex Crimea was 443 to 1. The measure needed 300 votes to pass.

The bill is scheduled to be taken up Friday by the upper house, the Federation Council, where expected approval will make Crimea officially part of the country under Russian law — despite the insistence of the United States, Europe and others that it remain part of Ukraine. …

The lone Duma dissenter, Ilya Ponomaryov, later tweeted, “The best intentions have led us to a big political mistake: I vote against the war.”

Too bad we’re not convincing more Russians of the same thing.


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Bmore

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:17 PM

MissLamar

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Lolz! She’ll be thrilled. ; )

Bmore on March 20, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Lolz! She’ll be thrilled. ; )

Bmore on March 20, 2014 at 2:28 PM

You typed too soon :)

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Too bad we’re not convincing more Russians of the same thing.

Don’t interpret votes in the Duma as a reflection of anything besides Putin’s will. Remember, this is the same criminal regime who repeatedly murders dissidents and critical journalists.

Like the “referendum” in Crimea, Russian elections have been a complete sham ever since Yeltsin left office.

Norwegian on March 20, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Do THESE Russians even have any bank accounts, money, property, investments, holdings – anything – outside of Russia, or is this going to be another embarrassing event like last time where we find out almost none of them have anything to ‘sanction’ outside of Russia?

easyt65 on March 20, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Russians have extensive assets outside of Russia but I doubt that any action will be taken against those assets at this time. The West needs to keep some powder dry to assert further leverage over the actions of Putin in eastern Ukraine. If the West went all out now with economic sanctions, Russia would have little to lose from an invasion of mainland Ukraine. The threat of asset seizures abroad and trade restrictions is a real deterrent.

bayam on March 20, 2014 at 2:47 PM

There is no word in any language,that I know of,that describes the degree of embarrassment this kaka-head in the White House and his whole Administration visits on those who are Americans still trying to live the American Dream…….not to mention this guy’s going to get us all killed

SweetSensationalist on March 20, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Heh. Putin puts a travel ban on people who would never want to go to russia. How embarassing for him.

Hey vladdy, you should be doing anything you can to attact visitors to your dying country, not scaring them away.

everdiso on March 20, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Wrote a long rebuttal but then I gave up. Seems some on this board are itching for a fight, dreaming of “liberating” countries.

When do you plan to revolt against 0bama, btw, and let’s see if the score will be 16 dead police to 99 protesters.

Russia regime in criminal? Yes

In Ukraine entitled to Crimea, and for some large territories in the West occupied by the Soviets in 1939? No

Nikita Khrushchev did it, no reason to respect his decisions.

Ukraine has a large extreme-right party, and I cannot wait to see your reaction when they start breaking skulls to jews or anything non-Ukrainian as in 1941 again. Ukrainians are not better than Russian by far, consistently on their very short modern history they attempted to kill everyone around.

You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. John Demjanjuk would be proud…

Rookie on March 20, 2014 at 2:56 PM

The threat of asset seizures abroad and trade restrictions is a real deterrent.

bayam on March 20, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Just for you – foreign policy, circa 2014

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Hey vladdy, you should be doing anything you can to attact visitors to your dying country, not scaring them away.

everdiso on March 20, 2014 at 2:54 PM

He is.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 3:03 PM

A tactful response, to be sure.

everdiso on March 20, 2014 at 3:26 PM

When negotiating with the Russians you grab the entire population of potential options and hold them hostage. Then, you prepare to either shoot the hostages or slowly give them back after some tangible good-faith moves.

You do not, I repeat do not, threaten to make a move. Especially if you do not have the temerity to undertake it.

But this is apparently the sophomoric, amateur, feckless or perhaps deliberate policy of the Obama Administration.

Marcus Traianus on March 20, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Kirit Radia ‏@KiritRadia 31m

Putin’s spox says #Russia’s response to today’s sanctions “will be based on the principle of reciprocity and will not take long”
Expand

canopfor on March 20, 2014 at 3:59 PM

The russians are already surprised at the west’s resolve. This is when panic steps in.

Russia makes up only 3% of the world’s economy, there is no “reciprocity” available to them.

everdiso on March 20, 2014 at 4:34 PM

From november: http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-07/russia-forecasts-losing-ground-in-global-economy-by-2030.html

Gross domestic product will rise at an average pace of 2.5 percent through 2030, less than the 3.4 percent to 3.5 percent global rate, according to the ministry’s updated forecasts. That would reduce Russia’s share of world economic output to 3.4 percent by 2030 from 4 percent last year, the ministry said.

The muted outlook highlights the turnaround in fortune for the world’s biggest energy exporter, whose $2 trillion economy grew at an average annual rate of 7 percent during Vladimir Putin’s presidency from 2000 to 2008 before contracting 7.8 percent in 2009 after crude oil prices plunged. GDP growth decelerated every quarter since Putin won a third Kremlin term in March 2012, with senior officials including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warning Russia’s export-driven economic model neared exhaustion.

You want to know why putin has made this desperate move with so little potential gain? Here’s your answer.

everdiso on March 20, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Ukraine crisis: Could Trans-Dniester be next?

A narrow strip of land between the Dniester river and the Ukrainian border.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea has led some to wonder whether any other former Soviet countries could follow. The separatist region of Trans-Dniester has already offered itself to Moscow – a request which Russia has promised to consider. This week the Supreme Soviet sent an official request to Moscow asking if – given Crimea – Trans-Dniester could be allowed to join the Russian Federation.

kcewa on March 20, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Obama is mentally ill, living in some serious delusions. Putin sees the dementia and knows everyone around the president is paralyzed.

dogsoldier on March 20, 2014 at 5:56 PM

LilliPutin is strong because obama is a lilliputian.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 7:07 PM

….kaka-head in the White House and …..

SweetSensationalist on March 20, 2014 at 2:50 PM

kaka-head…..I like that. I’ve used all my epithets I could think of to call this dawg of a man.

avagreen on March 20, 2014 at 8:40 PM

everdiso on March 20, 2014 at 4:38 PM

I’ve heard of this before. Putin is desperate, which is dangerous.
OTOH, kaka-head Ob00ber has ” more freedom after the election” to mess things up for the U.S. Co-inkydink?

avagreen on March 20, 2014 at 8:44 PM

Let’s see, Russia holds about $163 billion of our debt. Not nearly as much as China but it would be a drain on the treasury if they called it all in. On the other hand, we’re so damn far in debt now that Obama probably wouldn’t care . . . what’s a little more red ink?

rplat on March 20, 2014 at 9:18 PM

Quick Sparky, draw a red line!
/

S. D. on March 20, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Don’t interpret votes in the Duma as a reflection of anything besides Putin’s will. Remember, this is the same criminal regime who repeatedly murders dissidents and critical journalists.

Norwegian on March 20, 2014 at 2:39 PM

The people Putin banned from Russia McInsane, Reid, Landreau, Menendes, etc., I’d like see banned from being in my state too.

bw222 on March 20, 2014 at 9:49 PM

In Soviet Russia, Putin sanctions you!

/smirnov

The Schaef on March 20, 2014 at 10:48 PM

This Neo Con warmongering must stop. Neo Cons, Neo Progressives really, must be driven from power.

Neo-Progressives (fake conservatives) have dominated the Republican party for many years now, effectively tricking the conservative base into supporting their collectivist-authoritarian-elitist agenda.

Neo Progs stand on a mountain of bodies while scolding the rest of us about peace being lost due to lack of war. This insanity goes all the way to the top of the G Old P and beyond.

What will it take to remove these elitist scum from power?

Another Libertarian on March 21, 2014 at 2:14 AM

Another Pink Line drawn in the sand (which can be easily brushed away) by Dear Leader.
No doubt Mr Putin is shaking in his boots. WIth laughter.

Such leadership, from the man in Mom jeans on the girl’s bike.

orangemtl on March 21, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Ukraine crisis: Could Trans-Dniester be next?

A narrow strip of land between the Dniester river and the Ukrainian border.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea has led some to wonder whether any other former Soviet countries could follow. The separatist region of Trans-Dniester has already offered itself to Moscow – a request which Russia has promised to consider. This week the Supreme Soviet sent an official request to Moscow asking if – given Crimea – Trans-Dniester could be allowed to join the Russian Federation.

kcewa on March 20, 2014 at 5:10 PM

It would be just a formality then, it’s as if it’s Russian already (Transnistria that is), no real independence there….that was the Russians game with Moldova, who tried the same that Ukraine did, integrate more with the EU, via their connection with Romania (they speak Romanian in Moldova) and the Ruskies used the same ole ‘protection of Russian minority’ meme, sent tropps there and separated Transnistria from Moldova, so basically they grabbed it…test trial for Crimea…

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 5:25 PM

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