The Obama administration has imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia over its support for separatist rebels in Ukraine. President Obama said the measures will target Russia’s economy, but rejected claims of a new Cold War.
President Obama: “If Russia continues on its current path, the cost on Russia will continue to grow. And today is a reminder that the United States means what it says. And we will rally the international community in standing up for the rights and freedom of people around the world. Today, and building on the measures we announced two weeks ago, the United States is imposing new sanctions in key sectors of the Russian economy: energy, arms and finance. It’s not a new Cold War. What it is is a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can chart its own path.”
The new sanctions continue to avoid Russia’s major oil and natural gas projects, which entail partnerships with the oil giants ExxonMobil and BP. The European Union has also approved its toughest sanctions on Russia, banning the import and export of weapons. The EU plan does carve out an exception for France, allowing it to complete a $1.7 billion deal for two amphibious assault ships. The sanctions follow this month’s downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which killed all 298 passengers on board. The Ukrainian and U.S. governments say separatists shot down the plane with Russian-supplied missiles, a claim Russia and the rebels have denied. International investigators remain unable to reach the crash site amidst heavy fighting between the Ukraine government and the rebels. The Ukraine government says it has seized a key town on the outskirts of rebel-held Donetsk, with violence killing at least 19 people over the past 24 hours.