Crimea moves to secede from Ukraine, U.S. & EU impose sanction against Russian officials

Crimea declared that it will secede from Ukraine after a Russian-backed referendum on Sunday. Since February, Russia has mobilized thousands of troops to the strategic Black Sea peninsula, where Russia leases a naval base in Sevastopol.   

Read more: Russia sends troops to Crimea, Ukraine on brink of war

The United States announced that it will not recognize the referendum in Crimea, citing Russia’s unlawful intervention and violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“The referendum in Crimea was a clear violation of Ukrainian constitutions and international law, and it will not be recognized by the international community,” said President Barack Obama in a televised address this morning.

Obama announced expanded sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials who are “contributing to the crisis in Ukraine.”

Seven new Russian officials will be subject to U.S. sanctions, and they are:

Vladislav Surkov, an aide to President Vladimir Putin;

Sergey Glazyev, an adviser to President Vladimir Putin;

Leonid Slutsky, a deputy in the Russian State Duma who chairs the committee on Eurasian affairs;

Andrei Klishas, a member of Russia’s Member of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly;

Valentina Matviyenko, the head of Russia’ Federation Council;

Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister;

And Yelena Mizulina, a deputy in the Russian State Duma.

Obama has called on Russia to pull back forces in Crimea and reach a diplomatic solution with Ukraine. However, he said the United States is ready to impose further sanctions if Russia “escalates” the situation.

The European Union also announced it will not recognize the “illegal” referendum in Crimea. The EU today has put into effect sanctions – including asset freezes and visa/travel bans – against 21 individuals deemed responsible for undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty. The list of individuals will be published later today.

“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,” said Obama.


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