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U.S., Europe escalate economic sanctions on Russia

WASHINGTON — Struggling to defuse the persistent crisis in Ukraine, both the United States and the European Union imposed new economic sanctions Wednesday on Russia, with President Barack Obama declaring that Russian leaders must see that their actions supporting rebels "have consequences."

Though the American and European sanctions were coordinated, they nonetheless exposed fissures in what the West has tried to project as a united front in its months-long effort to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin, sounding unperturbed, said the United States is only hurting itself.

The penalties announced by the White House were broad in scope, targeting two major Russian energy firms, a pair of powerful financial institutions, eight arms firms and four individuals. Leaders in Europe, which has a far deeper economic relationship with Russia than the United States does, were more restrained, ordering investment and development banks on the continent to suspend financing agreements with Moscow.

Even the U.S. penalties stopped short of the most stringent actions the West has threatened, which would entail fully cutting off key sectors of Russia's economy. But officials said those steps are still on the table if Russia fails to abide by the West's demands to stop supporting pro-Russian insurgents who have destabilized swaths of eastern Ukraine.

U.S., Europe escalate economic sanctions on Russia 07/16/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 10:17pm]
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