Obama Slaps Putin's Pals with Sanctions
US President Barack Obama announced that new sanctions against Russia will be imposed on Monday. As has been reported, they will target a list of individuals and companies in an effort to pressure Moscow to rethink its military intervention in the Ukraine.
High-technology exports to Russia's defense industry will be affected, the president said. The U.S. sanctions also are expected to take aim at Russian billionaires who are close to President Vladimir Putin, in order to spotlight the country's “oligarchic financial system,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The Journal speculated that Putin's private money may also be targeted.
"The goal here is not to go after Mr. Putin personally," Mr. Obama said. "The goal is to change his calculus."
Obama spoke of a "calibrated effort" to make Russia pay a price for its actions in Ukraine.
"We don't yet know whether it's going to work," he said during a news conference in the Philippines.
The situation in Ukraine continued to deteriorate in recent days. Pro-Russian separatists took hostage a group of military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Friday. On Sunday, they said they had captured three Ukrainian intelligence officers.
Obama's comments were the first confirmation that the U.S. would move forward Monday.
"We will be looking to designate people who are in his inner circle, who have a significant impact on the Russian economy. We'll be looking to designate companies that they and other inner circle people control. We'll be looking at taking steps, as well, with regard to high-technology exports to their defense industry. All of this together is going to have an impact," he added, but did not elaborate.
So far, sanctions have done little to deter Russia's provocations in Ukraine, and U.S. officials have said they have seen no evidence that Moscow intends to comply with an agreement reached in Geneva that sought to de-escalate tensions.
Russian officials have called sanctions “counterproductive.”
The United States and the EU previously responded to Russia’s actions in Ukraine by imposing personal sanctions against Russian and Crimean officials involved in the seizure of the peninsula.
Russian President Putin, however, has remained unfazed by EU and U.S. economic sanctions, and has responded by drafting his own sanctions on top American senators.