WASHINGTON — President Obama announced new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday in retaliation for Moscow’s role in arming the separatists in eastern Ukraine who shot down a civilian aircraft earlier this month, killing nearly 300 people.
Obama announced sanctions against major players in Russia’s energy, defense, and finance sectors, which, according to a Treasury Department list, include major state-owned banks like Bank of Moscow, the Russia Agricultural Bank, and VTB. The U.S. Export-Import Bank has put on hold all new transactions with Russia, a senior administration official said. The U.S. has also taken action against the United Shipbuilding Corporation, a Russian defense firm. The Commerce Department will also enact export license requirements for energy-related technologies for certain oil-drilling projects, an official said.
“Today is a reminder that the U.S. means what it says,” Obama said.
But Obama also said, “It’s not a new Cold War,” in response to a reporter’s question. “It’s a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can chart its own path.”
“These are the very powerful sectoral sanctions that you’ve heard us describe for a number of months now,” a senior administration official said. “This is the very significant step that you’ve heard us describe as the U.S. and Europe moving into sectoral sanctions together.”
The punitive measures are being introduced in concert with Europe, which announced its own sanctions Tuesday that are much heavier than what it had previously announced.
“These decisions will limit access to EU capital markets for Russian State-owned financial institutions, impose an embargo on trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual use goods for military end users, and curtail Russian access to sensitive technologies particularly in the field of the oil sector,” read an EU release about its sanctions on Tuesday.
“The EU steps are strong, they are significant, they represent a new step for Europe and one that we and the Europeans have taken together,” a senior administration official said.
On a call with reporters, an official said that the U.S. has now targeted five of the six largest state-owned banks in Russia.
However, the U.S. is still not planning lethal aid to the embattled Ukrainian military, officials said.
“The issue at this point is not the Ukrainian capacity to outfight the separatists, they are better armed than the separatists,” Obama said.
A U.S. official said that non-lethal support to the Ukrainian military had been “ramped up.”