Monday, March 17, 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says new U.S. sanctions imposed on Russian officials make it clear "that there are consequences for their actions" in Crimea and he's warning that the U.S. stands ready to impose further sanctions if necessary.
The administration officials said Putin wasn't sanctioned despite his support of the Crimean referendum because the U.S. doesn't usually begin with heads of state. But the officials, speaking to reporters on a conference call on the condition they not be quoted by name, say those sanctioned are very close to Putin and that the sanctions are "designed to hit close to home."
The president stressed that the government has the authority to go after officials in the Russian arms sector and those who support Russian cronies if the government doesn't pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
Obama on Monday froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials for their support of Crimea's vote to secede from Ukraine in the most comprehensive sanctions against Russia since the end of the Cold War. The Treasury Department also is imposing sanctions on four Ukrainians involved in the separatist effort.
The head of the referendum commission in Ukraine's Crimea says the final results of the Sunday vote show that 97 percent of voters have supported joining Russia.
Mikhail Malyshev said in a televised news conference on Monday that the final tally was 96.8 percent in favor of splitting from Ukraine.
The referendum was widely condemned by Western leaders, who plan to punish Russia with economic sanctions.
(Copyright 2014. The Associated Press.)