Obama levies new round of sanctions on Russia

President Barack Obama makes a statement on Ukraine, Thursday, March 20, 2014, on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington before departing for Florida. President Barack Obama said the US is levying a new round of economic sanctions on individuals in Russia, both inside and outside the government, in retaliation for the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine. He also said he has also signed a new executive order that would allow the U.S. to sanction key sectors of the Russian economy. (Charles Dharapak)
March 20, 2014 6:01:22 AM PDT
President Barack Obama says the United States is levying a new round of economic sanctions on individuals in Russia, both inside and outside the government, in retaliation for the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine.

Obama says he has also signed a new executive order that would allow the U.S. to sanction key sectors of the Russian economy.

The new penalties mark the second round of economic sanctions the U.S. has levied on Russia this week. The first round of penalties had little impact in stopping Moscow from annexing the strategically important Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

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Russia bans entry to US lawmakers, officials

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia says it has imposed entry bans on nine U.S. lawmakers and officials in retaliation to Washington's sanctions over Crimea.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday released the list that includes John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Robert Menendez, the head of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, other senators and administration officials.

The move came minutes after President Barack Obama introduced a new round of U.S. sanctions.

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Russian lawmakers seal annexation of Crimea
VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV

MOSCOW (AP) - The Russian parliament's lower house has given its near-unanimous approval to the country's annexation of Crimea, ignoring threats from Western powers of more sanctions.

The Kremlin-controlled State Duma voted 445-1 Thursday to make Crimea a part of Russia following a quick discussion in which members assailed the Ukrainian authorities.

The vote came as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Moscow for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. "I'm deeply concerned about the current situation," Ban said at the start of the talks.

The incorporation of Crimea into Russia needs to be rubber-stamped by the upper house and receive a final endorsement by Putin, formalities expected to be completed by the end of the week.

During Thursday's debate, senior lawmakers spoke of the need to protect Russian speakers elsewhere in Ukraine from radical Ukrainian nationalists, statements that could fuel fears of Russian invasion.

"They don't understand in Washington that entire territories will flee as Crimea did if such outrage continues," said Vladimir Vasilyev, the leader of the dominant United Russia faction.

Though Putin, who signed the treaty for Crimea to join Russia earlier this week, said he's not seeking a division of Ukraine, he insisted that the country can "use all means" to protect Russian speakers. He also made his view clear that he sees Ukraine as an artificial state carved up by the Soviet government to include some of Russia's historic lands.

Russia has been arguing for broad autonomy for Ukraine's regions that would turn the nation into a federation, and guarantees of Ukraine's neutral status to prevent its membership in NATO.

Thursday's vote follows Crimea's referendum Sunday, which was held just two weeks after Russian forces effectively took over the strategic Black Sea peninsula. The United States and the European Union have responded by slapping some limited sanctions on Russia.

Ilya Ponomarev, an opposition lawmaker who was the only Duma member who voted against, said in his blog that Russia behaved like a "banal aggressor" and made a grave mistake by annexing Crimea.


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