President Obama announced new sanctions on Russia Tuesday, telling reporters “this is not a new Cold War.” The announcement by the US president came the same day that the European Union also approved broader sanctions against Russia.
Obama explained that the new penalties are designed to “increase the pressure on Russia” to stop supporting separatist violence in Ukraine. USA Today reports that the Treasury Department released a list of Russian banks that are blocked from transactions with U.S. citizens. They include the Bank of Moscow and the Russian Agricultural Bank.
The new U.S. sanctions on Russia are similar to the ones unveiled by the EU Tuesday, which “will limit access to EU capital markets for Russian State-owned financial institutions, [and] impose an embargo on trade in arms.”
Previous sanctions against Russia have focused on specific businesses and individuals, but the new set is designed to hit sectors at the heart of the Russian economy. Sectors affected specifically include oil and gas supplies and technology, banking and finance, and arms sales.
In announcing the new sanctions, President Obama stated, “Today, Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community.” The president cited recent disputes like Russian political asylum for NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea, and the recent shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 that killed 298 people.
When asked about the prospect of a new “Cold War,” President Obama rejected the idea. Instead, he called the new sanctions a case of the United States and allies seeking to block one country from trying to dominate another. CNN notes that the U.S. president added, “What it is, is a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can charge its own path.”
Obama went on to say, “It didn’t have to come to this. It does not have to be this way. This is a choice that Russia and President [Vladimir] Putin in particular has made…. The path for a peaceful resolution to this crisis involves recognizing the sovereignty, the territorial integrity and the independence of the Ukrainian people.”
The new sanctions also come as the U.S. government accused the Russians of testing new long-range missiles in violation of a 1987 arms control treaty. White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the incident, “a serious concern that we’ve raised with Russians on many occasions.”
Some European officials warned the new sanctions on Russia would slow down or otherwise hurt their own economies because of strong ties to Russia. The nation is the world’s biggest exporter of gas and second biggest exporter of oil. Many of those supplies go to Russia.
President Obama warned that, should a diplomatic solution not be reached with President Putin, further sanctions on Russia are possible.
[Image by Barack Obama]