The U.S. said it will impose new sanctions against Russia as early as Monday over the Ukraine crisis after President Barack Obama pushed European leaders for action as the Kremlin's troops performed maneuvers at the border and its jets flew into Ukrainian airspace.
Obama, in South Korea on a trip to Asia, called European leaders after Secretary of State John Kerry issued a stern warning to Russia to take concrete measures to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine or face further sanctions.
A statement from the countries known as the G7 read, “Given the urgency of securing the opportunity for a successful and peaceful democratic vote next month in Ukraine’s presidential elections, we have committed to act urgently to intensify targeted sanctions and measures to increase the costs of Russia’s actions.“
But while the United States' allies agree sanctions need to be ratcheted up, they are not willing to go as far as the U.S. in punishing Russia's economy because the move would also hurt their business interests.
The G7 statement stops short of calling for more economically painful sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy such as energy and banking.
A senior Obama administration official clarified that “each country will determine which targeted sanctions they will impose.”
While the efforts will be “coordinate and complementary,” they will not necessarily be identical, the official told NBC News.
Ukraine's government said Russian troops have been maneuvering close to the border, getting within 1,100 yards. Russian jets have also occasionally crossed the border before flying back out, Pentagon officials confirmed.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's prime minister accused Russia of trying to start World War III.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk made the comments a day after Russia said it had been "forced" to start fresh military drills just over the border because of increased activity by NATO and the Ukrainian military.
"The world has not yet forgotten World War II, but Russia already wants to start World War III," Yatsenyuk said.
— Andrea Mitchell, Shawna Thomas and Becky Bratu
First published April 25 2014, 7:51 PM