Russia imposed entry bans on several American officials and members of Congress Thursday, retaliation for ramped-up sanctions from the U.S. over the crisis in Ukraine.
Russia’s action targets nine U.S. officials: House Speaker John Boehner; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; Robert Menendez, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; Caroline Atkinson, deputy assistant to the president; Daniel Pfeiffer and Benjamin Rhodes, assistants to the president; and Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Daniel Coats of Indiana, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.“We have repeatedly warned that the use of sanctions instruments – double-edged things – boomerang on the United States itself,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation said in a statement Thursday. “There should be no doubt: for every hostile attack, we will respond appropriately.”
Crimea voted Sunday to join Russia and secede from Ukraine, but the Obama administration believes the vote was administered under threats of intimidation.
The Obama administration first issued sanctions against seven Russian officials on Monday after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty with Crimean leaders to annex the peninsula from Ukraine. The White House expanded the list Thursday to include 20 more Russians and a bank in support of Putin’s government. The European Union separately announced expanded sanctions against Russia.
“This is not our preferred outcome. These sanctions would not only have a significant impact on the Russian economy, but could also be disruptive to the global economy,” President Obama said Thursday at the White House. “However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community.”
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said the speaker was ”proud to be included on a list of those willing to stand against Putin’s aggression.” McCain said he was proud, too.
Several hundred pro-Russian forces took over a key Crimean naval base earlier this week. In response, Vice President Joe Biden warned Moscow that the United States will not tolerate Russian aggression against NATO allies.
Obama invited leaders of the G7 world powers to attend an emergency meeting next week during a security summit in the Netherlands to discuss the current crisis in Ukraine.