The Obama administration issued new sanctions Monday against seven Russian government officials and 17 companies linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, the White House announced in an attempt to punish Russia for heightened actions in Ukraine.
“The United States made clear it would impose additional costs on Russia if it failed live up to its Geneva commitments and take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “Consequently, today the United States is imposing targeted sanctions on a number of Russian individuals and entities and restricting licenses for certain U.S. exports to Russia.”
The White House said Russia had not done enough to honor a recent agreement with Ukraine meant to ease tensions in the wake of the annexation of Crimea.
Under the sanctions, seven Russian government officials, including two members of Putin’s inner circle, are subject to an assets freeze and a U.S. visa ban. The assets of 17 companies linked to Putin also will be frozen.
Senior administration officials, detailing the sanctions, highlighted the punishments against Sergei Chemezov, CEO of the Rostec Corporation and chairman of the Union of Russian Mechanical Engineers, and Igor Sechin, a Putin counselor. Putin himself is still not subject to sanctions.
“Russia has done precisely nothing to fulfill its obligations,” a senior administration said, explaining the new penalties against Russia.
The Kremlin thus far has been undeterred by U.S. sanctions in the wake of the annexation of Crimea, and critics have accused the White House of doing little to force Putin’s hand on Ukraine.
Obama insisted Monday that wide-ranging sanctions would be necessary if Putin stepped up his aggression in Ukraine. However, he did concede that the latest economic punishments might not sway the Russian leader.
“We don’t yet know whether it’s going to work,” Obama admitted Monday. “And that’s why the next phase if, in fact, we saw further Russian aggression towards Ukraine could be sectoral sanctions, less narrowly targeted, addressing sectors like banking or the defense industry.”
Without the sting of sectoral sanctions, however, analysts doubt Putin will alter his calculus on Ukraine.
Yet, senior administration officials argued Monday that the sanctions in place are already influencing the Russian economy.
“There has already been a huge rush of capital out of Russia,” one senior administration official said.
“We have additional options available to us should Russia further escalate the situation,” another senior administration official added.
Like the president, though, administration officials are not predicting Russia will swiftly change course on Ukraine.
“We don’t expect,” one administration official conceded, “there to be an immediate change in Russian policy."
This article was posted at 9:12 a.m. and has since been updated.