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Trading Sanctions: Russia Might Be Hitting Back At U.S.

After the U.S. released its own sanctions, a report says Vladimir Putin will respond with punishments for a handful of U.S. senators.
Posted at 7:41 PM, Mar 17, 2014

After the Crimean referendum Monday, the U.S. and European Union moved swiftly to impose economic sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian officials.

The U.S. said it will freeze assets and ban travel for eleven officials involved in the Crimean crisis, including ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich. In a prepared address, President Obama gave Russia its harshest scolding yet. (Via The Washington Post)

"We'll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world." (Via The White House)

The E.U. declared similar punishments for 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials in a list that was narrowed down from over 120 people. Russian president Vladimir Putin himself was not punished, as sanctioning a head of state would be going a step further. (Via The Guardian)

The sanctions came after Putin issued a statement Monday recognizing Crimea as an independent state. And, according to CNN, the Russian parliament could vote to annex the region as soon as Tuesday.

The U.S. is calling the referendum a sham, with unreasonably high turnout reported from some areas and the presence of armed Russian troops near voting centers suggesting intimidation played a part in the vote. NPR notes the ballots did not provide an option to stay with Ukraine.

In response to Obama's penalties, The Daily Beast says Putin will release his own list of sanctions, which will mostly target U.S. senators. Sen. John McCain expects to be on the list, joking to the site, "I guess I'm going to have to try to withdraw my money from my secret account in St. Petersburg."

Obama has warned Russia that the sanctions could increase, but some are urging the president to do more now.

Conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer writes that "the ultimate sanction is to cut off Russian oligarchs, companies and banks from the Western financial system. That's the economic 'nuclear option.'"

Historically, however, Obama's sanctions are par for the course. During 2012's unrest in Syria, the U.S. froze President Bashir al-Assad's stateside assets and instituted a travel ban on many of his associates. And in 2011, the U.S. banned any talks with business leaders in Libya during the revolt against Prime Minister Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Vice President Joe Biden will visit E.U. member nations Poland and Lithuania this week, while Obama will travel to Europe next week.