- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2014

The Obama administration Monday imposed a new round of targeted economic sanctions against cronies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and 17 companies in response to Russia’s involvement in the crisis in Ukraine.

The White House said the new limited sanctions are hitting seven Russian government officials, including two members of Mr. Putin’s inner circle, including a freeze on any U.S. assets and a ban on travel to the U.S.

The actions are being taken because Russia “has done nothing” since it agreed in Geneva on April 17 to reduce tensions in Ukraine by refraining from provocative and violent actions.

Russia’s involvement in the recent violence in eastern Ukraine is indisputable,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

President Obama said earlier Monday in the Philippines, where he is wrapping up a tour of Asia, that the U.S. is holding off on broader sanctions that would further harm the Russian economy. The European Union is also expected to add about 15 new targets to its Russia sanctions list on Monday.

A masked pro-Russian activist places a self-proclaimed "Donetsk Republic" flag over the office of a "Privatbank" bank, owned by a businessman who is considered to back the new pro-western government in Donetsk, Ukraine, Monday, April 28, 2014. Ukraine's acting government and the West have accused Russia of orchestrating the unrest, which they fear Moscow could use as a pretext for an invasion. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A masked pro-Russian activist places a self-proclaimed “Donetsk Republic” flag over the ... more >

“We are keeping in reserve additional steps that we could take should the situation escalate further,” Mr. Obama said, acknowledging that he did not know if the measures he has ordered so far will work.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the sanctions are intended to compel Russia to deescalate the situation in Ukraine.

Russia’s dangerous and inflammatory actions against Ukraine are illegal and illegitimate,” Mr. Lew said. “Today’s targeted actions, taken in close coordination with the [European Union], will increase the impact we have already begun to see on Russia’s own economy as a result of Russia’s actions in Ukraine and from U.S. and international sanctions.”

He said the sanctions are hurting the Russian economy and that the U.S. is prepared to take additional action against “individuals and entities in specific sectors if Russia continues to press forward.”