Ukraine conflict: US and EU widen sanctions on Russia
US President Barack Obama has announced new economic sanctions against Russia, saying they will make Russia’s “weak economy even weaker”.
He said the co-ordinated actions of the US and European Union would “have an even bigger bite” on Russia’s economy.
The new restrictions include banning Americans or people in the US from banking with three Russian banks.
The aim is to increase the cost to Russia of its continued support for pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow denies charges by the EU and US that it is supplying heavy weapons to the rebels.
Speaking at the White House, Mr Obama said the US was widening its sanctions to target the key sectors of the Russian economy – energy, arms and finance.
“If Russia continues on this current path, the costs on Russia will continue to grow,” Mr Obama said.
The US Treasury said the banks being targeting in this round of sanctions were VTB, the Bank of Moscow, and the Russian Agriculture Bank (Rosselkhozbank).
Earlier, the EU also adopted new economic sanctions against Russia, targeting the oil sector, defence equipment and sensitive technologies.
Full details of the new EU sanctions are expected on Wednesday, when the EU is also set to name more Russian officials facing asset freezes and travel bans in Europe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had been reluctant to step up sanctions because of Germany’s trade links with Russia, said the latest measures were “unavoidable”.
Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, told the BBC: “”I am disappointed because the EU is slipping along the tracks that lead nowhere.
“I can understand that they are concerned with the situation; so are we, but it’s not a prerequisite to impose sanctions.”
He added that he believed Ukraine should be subject to sanctions for its role in the conflict in the country’s east.
The US Treasury singled out VTB Bank, its subsidiary Bank of Moscow and Russian Agricultural Bank as three institutions joining the existing sanctions regime against Russia.
Sanctions will also target Russia’s state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation, which builds attack submarines and surface warships, some of them for export to Moscow’s overseas military partners.
Europe’s sanctions will notably make it tougher for Russian state-owned banks to access European financial markets, forcing their costs higher and hobbling an already struggling economy.
Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, dubbed the measures “a strong warning” and condemned Russia’s “illegal annexation” of Crimea and deliberate destabilization of Ukraine.
If Russia does not change direction, Van Rompuy said, “it will find itself increasingly isolated by its own actions.”
“The European Union will fulfill its obligations to protect and ensure the security of its citizens. And the European Union will stand by its neighbors and partners,” the statement added.
The EU, however, “remains ready to reverse its decisions and re-engage with Russia when it starts contributing actively and without ambiguities to finding a solution,” he added.
For months since the crisis erupted in November, the EU has restricted its response to so-called ‘Phase 2′ asset freezes and visa bans on those implicated in or profiting from the Ukraine crisis.
sanctions are the new arsenal in the armoury of the west..they need to be careful they dont shoot themselves in the foot..especially europe..
“Van Rompuy said, “it will find itself increasingly isolated by its own actions.”
fucking van rompuy..theocratic pond scum..