U.S. sanctions more Russian officials, companies for Ukraine response

Updated at 10:15 a.m.

The Obama administration has moved to expand sanctions on top Russian officials as part of its ongoing response to the crisis in Ukraine, citing the Russian government's continued "illegal intervention and provocative actions" and its refusal to abide by the terms of an agreement to deescalate brokered in Geneva earlier this month.

The Treasury Department is sanctioning seven Russian government officials, including two it describes as members of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, with an asset freeze and a ban on U.S. visas. An additional 17 companies it says are linked to Putin's inner circle are subject to an asset freeze, and the Department of Commerce has imposed a license requirement on 13 of those countries with a presumption of denial for the export, re-export or other foreign transfer of U.S.-origin items to the companies. The Commerce and State Departments also announced a tightened policy to deny export license applications for any high-technology items that could contribute to Russia's military capabilities, and they will revoke any existing export licenses that meet these conditions.

"The international community has been unified in its position that Russia must cease its illegal intervention and provocative actions in Ukraine. The United States, working closely with its partners, remains prepared to impose still greater costs on Russia if the Russian leadership continues these provocations instead of de-escalating the situation, consistent with its Geneva commitments," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said that the sanctions are expected to "increase the impact we have already begun to see on Russia's own economy."

Separately, the European Union said it was adding 15 more officials to its own sanctions list, according to the Associated Press. The additional sanctions await formal approval from the national governments of the 28 EU member nations, but are expected to be completed shortly. The names of those individuals were not immediately available.

The moves are consistent with a decision by the Group of Seven (G-7) nations last week to move ahead with another round of targeted sanctions against Ukraine.

"Russia has taken no concrete actions in support of the Geneva accord. It has not publicly supported the accord, nor condemned the acts of pro-separatists seeking to destabilize Ukraine, nor called on armed militants to leave peacefully the government buildings they've occupied and put down their arms," said a statement released by the G-7 leaders last week. "Instead, it has continued to escalate tensions by increasingly concerning rhetoric and ongoing threatening military maneuvers on Ukraine's border."

The new measures do, however, stop short of sanctioning entire key sectors of the Russian economy including financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense. Carney said that move is being reserved as a response to potential Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

The individuals on the U.S. sanctions list include several government and business officials who have close ties to Putin. They are: Oleg Belavantsev, who was appointed Russia's Presidential Envoy to Crimea after it was formally annexed by Russia; Sergei Chemezov, a longtime Putin ally and the Director General of the State Corporation for Promoting Development, Manufacturing and Export of Russian Technologies High-Tech Industrial Products, also known as Rostec; Dmitry Kozak a Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation; Evgeniy Murov the Director of Russia's Federal Protective Service; Aleksei Pushkov a Deputy of the State Duma; Igor Sechin a former Putin deputy chief of staff who is now the president and chairman of the management board for Rosneft, Russia's leading petroleum company, and one of the world's largest publicly-traded oil companies; and Vyacheslav Volodin, the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office.

The 17 businesses facing sanctions include several banks who act on behalf of or assist senior government officials and some companies involved in the production or transportation of Russia's energy resources.

European leaders have moved cautiously because of the effect that a weak Russian economy could have on their own countries. Some Republican lawmakers, however, say it's time to move forward with sectoral sanctions now.

"I think these targeted sanctions against individuals just are not affecting Putin's behavior enough," the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday. "I think we need to put sectoral sanctions in place. I think we need to move those troops away from the border, change the behavior. And I'm very concerned that, as we've seen from this administration on so many tough issues, their policy's always late, after the point in time when we could have made a difference in the outcome."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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