Obama says US will impose new sanctions on Russian individuals, - New York News

Obama says US will impose new sanctions on Russian individuals, companies

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President Obama said Monday that the U.S. would announce more economic sanctions targeting Russian individuals and corporations in response to what he described as Russia's failure to uphold agreements aimed at cooling the crisis in Ukraine.

However, Obama also acknowledged that the sanctions might not affect the decisions taken by Russian president Vladimir Putin with regard to Ukraine. Even as he announced the package, Obama acknowledged that "we don't yet know whether it's going to work."

"The goal here is not to go after Mr. Putin personally," Obama added. "The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he's engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul."

Specifics of the sanctions were to be announced later Monday. They're expected to target high-technology exports to the Russian defense industry and companies controlled by those closest to President Vladimir Putin.

Obama announced the sanctions at a news conference in Manilla, where he is making the Philippines his last stop on a four-country tour of Asia. The president has been building a case for this new round of sanctions throughout his trip, both in his public comments and in private conversations with European leaders.

The new sanctions are intended to build on earlier U.S. and European visa bans and asset freezes imposed on Russian officials, including many in Putin's inner circle, after Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine last month.

White House officials say they decided last week to impose the new sanctions after determining that Russia had not lived up to its commitments under a fragile diplomatic accord aimed at easing the crisis in Ukraine. But the U.S. held off on implementing the sanctions in order to coordinate its actions with the European Union, which could also announce new penalties as early as Monday.

The failed diplomatic accord reached in Geneva called on the Kremlin to use its influence to get pro-Russian insurgents to leave the government buildings they have occupied in eastern Ukraine. But those forces have not only balked at leaving those buildings, but have also stepped up their provocations, including capturing European military observers.

European diplomats were set to meet in Brussels Monday to discuss slapping asset freezes and travel bans on more officials associated with Russia's actions on Ukraine. The EU has so far sanctioned 33 individuals over the Crimea annexation.

It was not known before Monday's meeting how many Russian officials would be added to the EU sanctions list and how close they are to Putin.

Neither the U.S. nor Europe plans to announce broader sanctions on Russia's key industries this week, though Obama said they were keeping those measures "in reserve" in case the situation worsens and Russia launches a full military incursion into eastern Ukraine. Among the targets of those so-called sector sanctions could be Russia's banking, defense and energy industries.

Much of Obama's outreach to European leaders in recent weeks has focused on building support for the sector sanctions. The EU is Russia's biggest trading partner, giving it much greater economic leverage over Moscow than the U.S. has. However, the EU treads more carefully in imposing sanctions since Russia is also one of its biggest oil and gas suppliers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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