President Barack Obama issued new sanctions against Russia on Monday, making good on his threat to punish the Russian government over its actions in Ukraine.
The White House announced a series of sanctions targeting a group of individuals, including senior aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. A senior administration official described the seven individuals targeted by the sanctions as "cronies" of the Russian government.
"These are by far and away the most comprehensive sanctions applied against Russia since the end of the Cold War," a senior administration official said in a conference call to detail the sanctions.
The sanctions came a day after a referendum on Sunday in Crimea, the region in Ukraine which Russian troops occupied weeks ago. Obama had previously warned against the referendum, which he and European leaders had regarded as illegitimate.
"We have fashioned these sanctions to impose costs on named individuals who wield influence in the Russian government and those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine," the White House said in a statement.
A senior administration official said that the goal of the sanctions was to target the individual wealth of the seven people targeted by Monday's executive order. But those same officials would not rule out further steps against the Russian government going forward.
The United States' sanctions were crafted in "very close coordination" with European allies, according to administration officials.
"We believe that our unity is critical in sending a message to Russia that it will be isolated politically and economically if it continues down this path," one senior administration official said.
The European Union is expected to announce similar sanctions. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius Monday tweeted:
First published March 17 2014, 6:43 AM
Michael O'Brien is a political reporter for NBC News. He started this role in September of 2011. O'Brien is responsible for writing, editing and facilitating the latest online political coverage, with an emphasis on the Republican Party's internal transformation. O'Brien reports to Vaughn Ververs, political editor.
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O'Brien joined NBCNews.com from The Hill newspaper, where he was a staff writer. In that role, O'Brien was responsible for breaking political news as part of the "Briefing Room" blog.
O'Brien is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan, and lives in Washington, D.C.