With congressional action delayed and Russia appearing on the verge of annexing Crimea, President Barack Obama announced a new round of sanctions against the Russian government Monday.
"We are making it clear that there are consequences for their actions," Obama said. Eleven people, including seven government officials and other "cronies" of the government, have been sanctioned in the dispute over Ukraine, prohibiting them from doing business with the United States and freezing their assets.
"Further provocations will achieve nothing," Obama said, except to deepen Russia's isolation. The United States stands ready to impose additional sanctions, he said. The president said Russia can instead choose a diplomatic path on the future of Ukraine and Obama said he believes negotiations could protect both Russia's interests and Ukraine's. He also said that Ukraine's leaders are prepared to engage in constitutional reform that would address the status of Crimea, but Russia stands alone in its actions to date.
While the administration touted the sanctions as the toughest since the end of the Cold War, they aren't particularly broad — yet. And they don't target Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.
They come as Congress left town without acting on legislation the administration backed, including sanctions language and authority to tap the International Monetary Fund for loans to Ukraine. That had prompted Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to blast his fellow Republicans for gumming up the works ahead of their recess .