President Barack Obama said Thursday that he has signed an executive order giving the United States authority to impose sanctions on "key sectors of the Russian economy" if necessary in light of Russia's "dangerous risks of escalation" in Ukraine.
"These sanctions would not only have a significant impact on the Russian economy, but could also be disruptive to the global economy," Obama warned. "However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community."
Obama also announced that the United States will impose further sanctions on Russian individuals with "substantial resources and influence" on Russian leadership and on a bank that has provided "material support" to those individuals.
A senior administration official told reporters after the president's remarks that there are 20 individuals who have been newly targeted for sanctions, including a top aide to President Vladimir Putin and Putin's personal banker as well as the chairman of Russian Railways.
The official added that the broader sanctions authorized by the new executive order could include restrictions on the Russian financial services, energy, mining, defense and engineering sectors.
In response, Russia announced an entry ban on nine American lawmakers and officials, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chief Robert Menendez, the Associated Press reported.
On Monday, the Obama administration announced targeted economic sanctions against 11 individuals involved in what the United States calls Russia's "illegal" incursion into Crimea. Critics, including defense hawks in Congress like Sen. John McCain, said that the sanctions were insufficient and that the United States should instead supply arms and training to the Ukrainians.
The White House indicated earlier this week that further sanctions would be forthcoming.
While Obama has promised to ratchet up “costs” on Russia, he has made clear that the United States is ruling out the use of military force as an option in the ongoing conflict.
Obama told a San Diego television station Thursday that the United States will not engage in a “military excursion” in Ukraine.
"There is a better path, but I think even the Ukrainians would acknowledge that for us to engage Russia militarily would not be appropriate and would not be good for Ukraine either,” he said.
First published March 20 2014, 7:45 AM