WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- President Obama said Thursday that new sanctions on
Russia will "impose a cost" for its military incursion into Ukraine.
at the White House, Obama also said he opposes a referendum that would
allow parts of Crimea to break away from Ukraine and join Russia.
calling for "de-escalation" of the crisis, Obama said the nation will
remain "firm" in opposing violations of international law.
spoke after placing visa restrictions and economic sanctions on Russians
who are determined to have been involved in military action in Ukraine.
the Russian incursion into Crimea as "an unusual and extraordinary
threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United
States," an Obama executive order calls for denying visas and blocking
financial transactions of designated Russians.
"The order does not
target the country of Ukraine, but rather is aimed at persons -
including persons who have asserted governmental authority in the
Crimean region without the authorization of the government of Ukraine -
who undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine," Obama
said in a message to Congress.
The sanctions could also apply to some Ukrainians if they are found to have been involved in efforts to destabilize the country.
sanctions announced Thursday are limited. They only affect funds in the
United States, or controlled by U.S. financial institutions abroad.
Visa restrictions and cancellations affect only travel to the United
The Obama administration is working with allies on a set of international sanctions on Russia.
U.S. unilateral sanctions come less than a week after the
administration called for a $1 billion package of economic and energy
assistance to the new government in Kiev.
The U.S. has also
suspended trade talks and military cooperation with Russia. It has
discussed boycotting a G-8 summit to be hosted by Russian President
Vladminir Putin in June in Sochi.
Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to discuss the Ukraine unrest Thursday with his Russian counterpart.
sanctions announcement also comes as a regional parliament in Crimea
set a vote on formally cutting ties with Ukraine and joining Russia.
Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said "we
welcome this first step, but remain committed to working with the
administration to give President Obama as many tools as needed to put
President Putin in check as well as prevent Russia from infringing on
the sovereignty of any of its other neighbors."
Boehner has called for increasing U.S. exports of natural gas in order to undercut Russian energy sales to other nations.
House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration "is pursuing and
reviewing a wide range of options in response to Russia's ongoing
violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
State Department will put visa restrictions in place against "those
responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of Ukraine," Carney said. "This new step stands in
addition to the policy already implemented to deny visas to those
involved in human rights abuses related to political oppression in
Economic sanctions will be aimed at "those who are most
directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military
intervention in Crimea, and does not preclude further steps should the
situation deteriorate," Carney said.
U.S. options include freezing assets and prohibiting Russian firms from doing business in the United States.
and Kerry have called on Putin to pull back troops to pre-existing
Russian bases in Crimea, and to allow international monitors into the
Putin, who has said he is obligated to protect the rights
of Russian-speaking people in Ukraine, has not responded to the
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