President Obama on Monday announced sanctions against Russia for its interference in Ukraine and said the United States stands ready to impose further punishment in the days ahead.
He said the United States would “calibrate our response based on whether Russia chooses to escalate or de-escalate the situation.”
“We are imposing sanctions on specific individuals responsible for undermining the sovereignty, territorial integrity and government of Ukraine,” Obama said. “We're making it clear that there are consequences for their actions.”
Pledging to “stand firm in our unwavering support for Ukraine,” the president insisted “Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, and international law must be upheld.”
“We have been guided by a fundamental principle: The future of Ukraine must be decided by the people of Ukraine,” the president said.
Earlier Monday, senior administration officials said the U.S. would target 11 Russians and Ukrainians deemed responsible for Moscow’s incursion into the ethnically Russian Ukrainian peninsula and the subsequent vote intended to legitimize Russia’s presence. Those targeted include close political allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as local political leaders within Crimea and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Crimea formally applied to join the Russian Federation on Monday following the referendum, in which a dominant majority cast ballots in favor of annexation.
Obama said that during a phone call with Putin on Sunday, he insisted the referendum would “not be recognized by the international community.” He also warned that “if Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions.”
“We'll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world,” Obama said. “The international community will continue to stand together to oppose any violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia's diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russian economy.”
Obama noted that Vice President Biden planed to travel to Europe on Monday night to meet with the leaders of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to discuss the crisis. Obama will head to Europe the following week to visits Brussels, the Netherlands, and Italy.
“Our message will be clear: As NATO allies, we have a solemn commitment to our collective defense, and we will uphold this commitment,” Obama said.
But despite the announcement of the new sanctions, Obama said he still believed there existed “ a path to resolve this situation diplomatically in a way that addresses the interests of both Russia and Ukraine.”
Obama said that Russia could still pull back its forces in Crimea, deploy international monitors and support constitutional reform in Ukraine.