US hits Crimea with new sanctions

The United States on Friday moved to match new European sanctions blocking investments in or imports from Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia earlier this year.

In a statement, President Obama said the executive order would prohibit the export of goods, technology or services to Crimea and authorize the Treasury Department to sanction individuals and companies operating within the territory.

{mosads}The order, Obama said, is “intended to provide clarity to U.S. corporations doing business in the region and reaffirm that the United States will not accept Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea.”

“I again call on Russia to end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, cease its support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, and fulfill its commitments under the Minsk agreements,” he said.

The move comes a day after the European Union announced similar steps designed to penalize separatist leaders and ratchet up economic pressure on Russia.

It also comes a day after the president said he was not planning to impose new sanctions enabled by congressional legislation, asserting that he preferred to “review and calibrate our sanctions” alongside European allies.

And it comes amid concerns that the Russian economy, teetering from the dramatic fall of oil prices and sanctions previously put into place over the Ukraine crisis, could be on the brink of collapse.

“If I were chairman of President Putin’s council of economic advisers, I would be extremely concerned,” Jason Furman, who holds that position in the Obama administration, told reporters earlier this week.

On Monday, Russia’s central bank announced it would raise its key interest rate from 10.5 percent to 17 percent — the largest single increase since 1998, preceding a government default on its debt. It was the sixth interest rate increase this year by Russia.

“I think they are facing a very serious economic situation and it’s a serious economic situation that is largely of their own making and largely reflects the consequences of not following a set of international rules,” Furman said.

Tags Jason Furman Russia Ukraine Vladimir Putin
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