The US and European Union have slapped tougher and “wide-ranging” sanctions on Russia, targeting its energy, finance and defence sectors for its continued support of separatists in Ukraine.
Announcing the latest US actions at the White House, President Barack Obama said, “The European Union is joining us in imposing major sanctions on Russia – its most significant and wide-ranging sanctions to date.”
“We’re blocking the exports of specific goods and technologies to the Russian energy sector. We’re expanding our sanctions to more Russian banks and defence companies,” he said.
The new restrictions include banning Americans or people in the US from banking with three Russian banks, suspending credit that encourages exports to Russia and financing for economic development projects there.
“In the financial sector, the EU is cutting off certain financing to state-owned banks in Russia. In the energy sector, it will stop exporting specific goods and technologies to Russia, which will make it more difficult for Russia to develop its oil resources over the long term,” he said.
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“In the defence sector, the EU is prohibiting new arms imports and exports and is halting the export of sensitive technology to Russia’s military users. And because we’re closely coordinating our actions with Europe, the sanctions we’re announcing today will have an even bigger bite,” Obama said.
The announcement came a day after Obama held a video conference with the leaders of four European countries – UK, France, Germany and Italy.
Obama said, “If Russia continues on its current path, the cost on Russia will continue to grow. Today is a reminder that the United States means what it says.”
The US President alleged “Russia has launched artillery strikes into Ukraine and continues to build up its own forces near the Ukrainian border.”
“More Russian military equipment, including artillery, armoured vehicles, and air defence equipment, has been transferred across the border to these separatists,” Obama said.
The US President said Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the sanctions already imposed on it have made a “weak Russian economy even weaker”.
“Foreign investors already are increasingly staying away. Even before our actions today, nearly USD100 billion in capital was expected to flee Russia,” he said.
“Russia’s energy, financial, and defence sectors are feeling the pain. Projections for Russian economic growth are down to near zero.
“The major sanctions we’re announcing today will continue to ratchet up the pressure on Russia, including the cronies and companies that are supporting Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine,” he added.