WASHINGTON, (Xinhua): The White House on Monday announced fresh sanctions on Russia, targeting seven government officials and 17 companies.
These people, among them two from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, and entities were hit with a visas ban and asset freezes in response to what the White House called Moscow’s “continued illegal intervention in Ukraine and provocative acts.”
The Obama administration also took steps against high-technology exports to the Russian defense industry, White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.
He alleged that Russia has “done nothing” and “in fact has further escalated the crisis” in Ukraine since April 17 when it agreed on “a number of steps to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine, including refraining from further violence or provocative acts” after meeting with the United States, the European Union and Ukraine in Geneva.
The EU is also expected to move against Russia as the leaders of the G-7 industrialized nations and the bloc issued a joint statement on Friday saying they had agreed to “move swiftly” to impose more sanctions on Russia in response to its inaction in helping to ease growing tension in eastern Ukraine.
Tensions are continuing unabated in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia militants are engaged in conflicts with government troops and detaining seven military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Slavyansk after freeing one on Sunday, and Mayor Gennady Kernes of Kharkiv was shot and seriously wounded on Monday.
“Russia’s involvement in the recent violence in eastern Ukraine is indisputable,” Carney said.
He threatened “still greater costs” on Russia in the event of what he called its continued “provocations,” as President Barack Obama signed an executive order in March authorizing sanctions targeting key sectors of the Russian economy, including financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering and defense.
The U.S. and EU have hit dozens of Russians and pro-Russia Ukrainians with travel bans and asset freezes, including close allies of Putin, following Moscow’s absorption of Crimea from Ukraine in March.
Russia vowed on Monday to deliver a “painful” response to fresh U.S. sanctions.
“We will, of course, respond,” the Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying. “We are certain that this response will have a painful effect on Washington.”
“We are disgusted with the statement issued by the White House press secretary,” he said, adding “Every word used by the White House press secretary in the statement confirms that the United States has completely lost touch with reality and is leading things toward an escalation of the crisis.”