US Reaction to Crimean Referendum

Sunday’s referendum in Crimea, where 97 percent of voters backed joining Russia and breaking away from Ukraine, affected the relationship between Russia and the West.

Both United States and European Union announced March 18 travel bans and asset freezes against several officials from Ukraine and Russia.

The referendum, organized by pro-Russian forces from Crimea, was categorized as illegitimate and illegal by US and EU.

“I’m announcing a series of measures that will continue to increase the cost on Russia and on those responsible for what is happening in Ukraine,” said President Obama in an official statement.

“First, as authorized by the executive order I signed two weeks ago, we are imposing sanctions on specific individuals responsible for undermining the sovereignty, territorial integrity and government of Ukraine.  We’re making it clear that there are consequences for their actions.

“Second, I have signed a new executive order that expands the scope of our sanctions.  As an initial step, I’m authorizing sanctions on Russian officials — entities operating in the arms sector in Russia and individuals who provide material support to senior officials of the Russian government.  And if Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions.”

The list with the sanctioned officials includes the speaker of Crimea’s parliament, the acting prime minister of Crimea, three senior Russian commanders, and several senior Russian parliamentary officials, BBC reports.

The list contains a total of 21 people, both Ukrainian and Russian officials.

Obama mentioned that US will continue to seek different methods to help Ukraine “achieve their universal rights and the security, prosperity and dignity that they deserve.”

He said that Russia might remediate the damage that has been done by pulling back its military forces and capabilities from the Ukrainian region Crimea, supporting the deployment of additional international monitoring in Ukraine, and engaging in dialogue with the Ukrainian government.

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