White House says new Russia sanctions could come Tuesday

Additional U.S. sanctions against Russia could be announced as soon as Tuesday, according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

Speaking at the White House press briefing, Earnest also said that the White House welcomes early indications that Europe is going to impose sanctions on Russia.

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Europe's sanctions will "track pretty closely" to those already implemented by the Obama administration, Earnest said.

The White House and members of Congress have criticized the European sanctions on Russia as too weak, but the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 appears to have pushed them toward tougher actions.  

Earnest said he expects the White House will elaborate more on its plans later in the day once the Europeans announce their sanctions.

The tougher sanctions are meant to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government to “re-evaluate their strategy in Ukraine," Earnest said. 

Asked if it is fair to say whether the downing of MH17 was the tipping point for Europe to impose stronger sanctions, Earnest said, “I would leave that analysis to others.”

He added that it’s reasonable to say the downing of the airliner “contributed to the Europeans’ willingness to step up to the plate” to take more serious action.

Two diplomats told The Associated Press Tuesday that the European Union had already adopted tough new sanctions against Russia.

The EU sanctions will include an arms embargo, a ban on the dual use and sensitive technologies, such as advanced energy technology equipment, according to the AP. Russian state-owned banks will also be prohibited from selling equities or bonds with a maturity of over 90 days in European capital markets, the report said.

Earnest also commented on Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which President Obama conveyed to Putin in a letter Monday.

“This is a top priority,” he said. “We’ve offered to engage in a high-level dialogue with [Russia] to resolve our concerns on this matter.”

Russia has said, however, that it looked into the allegations and decided that the matter is closed.

Earnest called that response “wholly unsatisfactory.”

“We look forward to having a dialogue at a high level to assess the willingness of the Russian regime to live up to the obligations that they’ve made,” he said.

— This story was updated at 1:34 p.m.