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US and Russia impose sanctions on each other over the crisis in Crimea

The latest measures by the US is being described as the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.

President Barack Obama makes a statement on Ukraine today outside the White House.
President Barack Obama makes a statement on Ukraine today outside the White House.
Image: Press Association Images

THE US PRESIDENT Barack Obama today announced a new round of punitive measures for Moscow’s annexation of Crimea as Europe’s leaders also readied to hit back at Russia with fresh sanctions.

But in Moscow, where the lower house of parliament rubber-stamped the absorption of the rebel peninsula, Russia issued its own list of sanctions against US officials.

Threat

Obama, who threatened to target the broader Russian economy if Moscow escalates its actions against Ukraine, said:

Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community.

The latest US measures in the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War target a new list of 20 lawmakers and senior government officials in addition to 11 people already sanctioned by Washington.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman condemned the new anti-Russian sanctions as unacceptable and noted that some of the names on the blacklist caused “bewilderment.”

List of names

“Whatever names feature on the list, the very practice of some sort of list is unacceptable for us,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.

“We are currently studying the list, we will have to understand what details we are talking about,” he said.

“We can immediately say that the appearance of certain names on the list causes nothing but extreme bewilderment.”

Russia hit back at the sanctions by issuing their own, introducing its own sanctions against US officials, just minutes after US President Barack Obama announced his new sanctions.

“There should be no doubt: each hostile attack will be met in an adequate manner,” the Russian foreign ministry said, saying it was targeting nine Obama aides and senators.

Moscow’s blacklist includes Obama aides Caroline Atkinson, Daniel Pfeiffer and Benjamin Rhodes and senators Mary Landrieu, John McCain and Daniel Coats.

EU leaders

In Brussels, where the 28-nation European Union was gathering for its second summit on Ukraine in less than two weeks, French President Francois Hollande said:

Borders cannot be redrawn and a region allowed to pass from one nation to another without a response.

Hollande said the bloc’s leaders would announce fresh sanctions at the two-day meeting “against a certain number of figures” and would cancel an EU-Russia summit planned for June.

But EU nations for now remain divided on ramping up their response with biting economic sanctions, hoping that diplomacy and dialogue can provide a way out.

“We will make clear that we are ready in case of further escalation to introduce economic sanctions,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is Russia’s leading EU trading partner.

Urging the bloc “to speak with a clear and united voice”, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said all were agreed on helping build a strong and democratic Ukraine.

Kiev’s interim premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk will be in Brussels to sign the political parts Friday of a broad EU Association Agreement whose rejection in November by Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych sparked the protests that led to his fall.

UN

Russian President Vladimir Putin found himself on the diplomatic defensive in Moscow when United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told him: “I cannot but to tell you that I am deeply concerned.”

Ban called for the deployment to Ukraine of rights monitors from the UN and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and for an “honest and constructive dialogue” between Moscow and Kiev.

But world anger has done little to halt the unchallenged Russian military advances that prompted Kiev’s new Western-backed government to acknowledge preparing a Crimean evacuation plan for thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and their families.

Tensions eased somewhat in the region when acting president Oleksandr Turchynov announced the release Thursday by Crimean militias of Ukranian navy chief Sergiy Gayduk.

Turchynov had threatened the Crimean authorities with “an adequate response … of a technical and technological nature” unless they immediately freed Gayduk and several others who were captured during the storming of Ukraine’s naval headquarters in the port of Sevastopol on Wednesday.

© – AFP 2014

Read: Russia requests that Crimean officials release captured Ukraine navy chief>

Read: “Putin’s Mein Kampf” – How the world reacted to Russia’s annexation of Crimea>

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