U.S. announces sanctions against Russian officials

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— Vladimir Konstantinov, speaker of the Crimean parliament

— Sergey Aksyonov, prime minister of Crimea's regional government

— Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of Crimea separatist group Ukrainian Choice and a close friend of Putin

— Yanukovych, who fled Ukraine for Russia and has supported the dispatch of Russian troops into Ukraine

The four newly targeted by the Treasury Department are:

— Yelena Mizulina, a state Duma deputy

— Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation.

— Valentina Matviyenko, head of the Federation Council

— Andrei Klishas, member of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

— Leonid Slutsky, a state Duma deputy

— Sergey Glazyev, a Putin adviser

— Vladislav Surkov, a Putin aide

Administration officials say those Obama targeted also are key political players in Russia also responsible for the country's tightening of human rights and civil liberties in the country. Obama's order targets were:

"Today's actions also serve as notice to Russia that unless it abides by its international obligations and returns its military forces to their original bases and respects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the United States is prepared to take additional steps to impose further political and economic costs," the statement said.

"Today's actions send a strong message to the Russian government that there are consequences for their actions that violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including their actions supporting the illegal referendum for Crimean separation," the White House said in a statement.

The administration officials said they will be looking at additional sanctions if Russia moves to annex Crimea or takes other action. Those targeted will have all U.S. assets frozen and no one in the United States can do business with them under Obama's order.

The United States, European Union and others say the action violates the Ukrainian constitution and international law and took place in the strategic peninsula under duress of Russian military intervention. Putin maintained that the vote was legal and consistent with the right of self-determination, according to the Kremlin.

The sanctions were expected after residents in Crimea voted overwhelmingly Sunday in favor of the split. Crimea's parliament on Monday declared the region an independent state. The administration officials say there is some concrete evidence that some ballots for the referendum arrived pre-marked in many cities and "there are massive anomalies in the vote." The officials did not say what that evidence was.

The U.S. announcement came shortly after the European Union announced travel bans and asset freezes on 21 people they have linked to the unrest in Crimea. Obama administration officials say there is some overlap between the U.S. and European list, which wasn't immediately made public.

The administration officials said Putin wasn't sanctioned despite his support of the Crimean referendum because the U.S. doesn't usually begin with heads of state. But the officials, speaking to reporters on a conference call on the condition they not be quoted by name, say those sanctioned are very close to Putin and that the sanctions are "designed to hit close to home."

Obama was to make a statement Monday from the White House.

The Treasury Department also is imposing sanctions on four Ukrainians — including former President Viktor Yanukovych and others who have supported Crimea's separation — under existing authority under a previous Obama order. Senior administration officials also said they are developing evidence against individuals in the arms industry and those they described as "Russian government cronies" to target their assets.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the most comprehensive sanctions against Russia since the end of the Cold War, President Barack Obama on Monday froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials, including top advisers to President Vladimir Putin, for their support of Crimea's vote to secede from Ukraine.

U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Russian Officials

Among those targeted were Vladislav Surkov, one of Mr. Putin’s most influential advisers known as the Kremlin’s “gray cardinal”; Sergei Glazyev, an economist who has been advising Mr. Putin on Ukraine; Valentina Matviyenko, chairman of the Federation Council, the upper house of Parliament; and Dmitry Rogozin, a deputy prime minister. No sanctions were placed on Mr. Putin.

“We have fashioned these sanctions to impose costs on named individuals who wield influence in the Russian government and those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine,” the White House said ina statement. “We stand ready to use these authorities in a direct and targeted fashion as events warrant.”

President Obama signed anexecutive orderfreezing the assets and banning visas for a number of Russians deemed to be responsible for the seizing of Crimea or otherwise interfering in Ukrainian sovereignty. Among those targeted were several officials in President Vladimir V. Putin’s inner circle, and the White House threatened to go after more if Russia did not back down.

WASHINGTON — The United States, working in coordination with Europe, imposed new sanctions on prominent Russian officials on Monday as the showdown over Ukraine reached a new stage of confrontation between East and West.

Lawmakers in Crimea Move Swiftly to Split From Ukraine

Stirring up further trouble in eastern Ukraine, he added, is “dangerous and unacceptable.”

“Russia has not proved to be a partner for stability” over Ukraine, Mr. Seibert noted. “On the contrary, it has exploited the weakness of its neighbor.” One example, he suggested, was the conduct of the referendum “under the impression of a massive presence of military and paramilitary forces.”

Asked whether Ms. Merkel, who has spoken at least five times with Mr. Putin in the past two weeks, still trusts the Russian leader, Mr. Seibert demurred, noting only that Mr. Putin, as head of state, was the man to deal with.

Mr. Putin gave a “positive assessment” on Sunday when Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the dispatch of observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Mr. Seibert said. Berlin hopes that the 59-nation organization, based in Vienna, will decide on the dispatch of such observers on Monday, Mr. Seibert added.

While calling for a “clear reaction” from the European Union, and stressing that Germany supports sanctions, the government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, indicated that Germany — which stands to lose perhaps the most if sanctions are imposed on Russia — is still pursuing diplomatic avenues.

For its part, Germany on Monday forcefully demanded that European observers be dispatched “as soon as possible” to prevent further destabilization in eastern Ukraine and reiterated that Berlin and its European partners considered Sunday’s referendum illegal and its results null and void.

Asked whether the list would include the heads of the energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft, as reported on Friday in Germany, Mr. Kurz replied: “This is not expected at this time.”

In a radio interview, Mr. Kurz said the referendum would trigger an array of measures including visa bans and the freezing of assets held by political and military figures who orchestrated Russia’s intervention in Crimea, Reuters reported.

One of the ministers attending the Brussels meeting,, Sebastian Kurz of Austria, gave a strong indication that the punitive European measures under debate would not initially reach into the highest echelons of Russia’s powerful energy companies, which are close to the Kremlin.

“The high voter turnout and the vast support for Crimea’s accession to Russia speak for themselves,” he was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Crimea’s new prime minister, Sergei Aksyonov, told Russian state television that a delegation from the region would arrive in Moscow to begin discussions on the process of annexation. The deputy speaker of Russia’s lower house of Parliament, Sergei Neverov, said that Russian lawmakers would act shortly.

He told Mr. Obama that “the current authorities in Kiev have so far failed to demonstrate the ability and desire to rein in the ultranationalist and radical groups that are destabilizing the situation in the country and terrorizing ordinary people, including the Russian-speaking population and Russia’s compatriots,” the Kremlin statement said.

Mr. Putin also continued to raise the issue of violence and protests in other parts of Ukraine, which have stoked fears that Russia could move forces beyond Crimea.

“The referendum was organized in such a way as to guarantee Crimea’s population the possibility to freely express their will and exercise their right to self-determination,” the Kremlin’s statement on the latest of a series of conversations between the two leaders said.

Mr. Putin told President Obama on Sunday that the referendum in Crimea was legal and cited the independence of Kosovo — which Russia has not recognized — as the precedent for Crimea’s secession, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The referendum on Sunday — in which 96.77 percent of voters supported breaking from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation — was greeted as a triumph in Moscow on Monday, and lawmakers there promised to move quickly to adopt legislation to absorb Crimea into the Russian Federation. “Crimea returns to Russia!” a headline in Komsomolskaya Pravda said, while Nezavisimaya Gazeta declared that “Kiev lost Crimea.”

The European leaders meeting in Brussels, meanwhile, made clear that they were not considering a military response. “We are not looking at military options here, this is not about a Crimean war,” Foreign Secretary William Hague of Britain said in a radio interview.

The truce will extend through March 21, he said, and will allow the Ukrainian military to resupply bases, which have been running low on food. Most important, the truce appears to reduce the possibility of an immediate confrontation over any of the bases if Russia formally annexes the peninsula in the coming days.

The Ukrainian defense minister, Ihor Tenyukh, said Monday that he had negotiated a truce with the commanders of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and the Russian Defense Ministry, affecting Ukrainian military units stationed in Crimea and surrounded by Russian troops wearing uniforms without insignia.

While it signaled a muscular military stance, the significance of the call-ups was unclear as the Ukrainian government had announced a general mobilization of reserves two weeks earlier.

Highlighting the tensions as both the West and Russia weighed their next moves, the Parliament in Kiev approved a presidential decree authorizing the call-up of 20,000 reservists to the armed forces and another 20,000 to a newly formed national guard. The interim government in Kiev also increased the military budget with an emergency allotment of about $680 million that will be disbursed over the next three months.

Without questions or debate, the council passed a unanimous resolution to request that Sevastopol become part of the Russian Federation as a “city of federal significance,” a status now held by Moscow and St. Petersburg that grants special administrative and budgetary privileges. Meanwhile, a stalemate continued at military bases around Crimea where Ukrainian forces have been surrounded and blocked by Russian troops but are refusing to surrender.

In Sevastopol, the City Council took similar steps, voting to confirm the referendum result.

The Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was renamed the State Council of the Republic of Crimea, and legislators formally appealed to Russia to accept Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.

The legislators adopted a resolution declaring that the laws of Ukraine no longer applied to Crimea and that state funds and all other state property of Ukraine in Crimea had been transferred to their new entity.

In Simferopol, celebrations continued Monday and officials declared it a day off from work. Legislators, however, were moving assertively to set the break from Ukraine in motion, announcing that the authorities in the Ukrainian capital had no power in Crimea.

The ministry called for a return to the agreement of Feb. 21 arranged by three European foreign ministers although it has been overtaken by events. It called for a national assembly to draft a new constitution creating a federal system of government that would shift significant power to the regions “reflecting the cultural and historical specificity of each of them.” The document also urged that Russian be made a second official language.

The proposals — including the recognition of Crimea’s right “to determine its own destiny” — contradicted many American, European and Ukrainian positions, making it unlikely that Russia would win broad diplomatic support even though it endorsed the creation of a “contact group” of diplomats to mediate.

On Monday, The Russian Foreign Ministry published a lengthy statement outlining its proposals for resolving Ukraine’s political crisis, saying that Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov had presented the plans to his counterparts in Europe and the United States a week earlier.

Mr. Putin was scheduled to make a speech on developments in the region on Tuesday.

Russia, which the United States and other countries in the West have threatened with economic punishment and political isolation, has embraced the result of Sunday’s ballot, but President Vladimir V. Putin has not formally declared his intent to annex the territory — a strategic peninsula that is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

The ministers did not immediately identify the names on the list, which is most likely the first of an escalating campaign of sanctions.

Hours later, in the first indication of a Western response, foreign ministers of the 28-nation European Union announced that they had imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 21 people they blamed for the moves to wrest Crimea from Ukrainian control.

Officials in Simferopol, the regional capital, jubilantly announced that almost 97 percent of voters on Sunday had supported secession.

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — In the face of stern international criticism a day after a disputed referendum, the Parliament of the breakaway republic of Crimea declared its independence from Ukraine on Monday, formally asking Russia to annex it and moving swiftly to cement the rupture with the authorities in Kiev.

Ukraine crisis EU imposes sanctions over Crimea

The government in Kiev has said it will not recognise the results.

Monday's sanctions came hours after Crimea's parliament declared the region an independent state, following Sunday's controversial referendum which officials say overwhelmingly backed leaving Ukraine.

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevic tweeted that further measures were expected to be taken in the next few days.

The EU announced its new sanctions after a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels.

The crisis follows the ousting on 22 February of Ukraine's pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych, who had sparked months of street protests by rejecting a planned EU trade deal in favour of closer ties with Moscow.

Moscow says the troops are pro-Russian self-defence forces and not under its direct control.

Pro-Russian forces have been in control of Crimea since late February.

The so-far unnamed individuals targeted by the sanctions are seen as having played a key role in the referendum, which Kiev, the US and EU deem illegal.

The move follows Sunday's referendum in Crimea, in which officials say 97% of voters backed breaking away from Ukraine and joining Russia.

The EU has agreed to impose travel bans and asset freezes against 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine.

Defiant Putin to address Russian parliament on Crimea

In the wake of the vote, Crimea's pro-Moscow prime minister Sergiy Aksyonov said he was leaving for Moscow on Monday.

"All necessary legislative decisions following the results of the referendum will be taken as soon as possible," said another deputy speaker Sergei Neverov.

Lawmakers said they would accelerate procedures to allow Crimea to join Russia and fast-track bills to give out Russian passports to local residents.

State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Russia will recognise Crimea's independence from Ukraine in a special treaty.

The authorities in Moscow and ordinary Russians have appeared unfazed by the threat of Western sanctions and international isolation as lawmakers pledged to swiftly incorporate Crimea.

On Sunday, an overwhelming 96.6 percent of voters on the Russian-speaking peninsula chose to join Russia in a referendum the West and Ukraine's new leaders have condemned as illegal.

The Kremlin confirmed his statement, although the contents of Putin's address has not been revealed.

"The speech of the president with an address on Crimea has been scheduled for 3 pm (1100 GMT)," Ivan Melnikov, the first deputy speaker of the lower house, the State Duma, said in parliament Monday.

Moscow (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will address both houses of parliament on Tuesday over Crimea's vote to leave Ukraine and become part of Russia, the Kremlin and lawmakers said.

Crimean parliament formally applies to join Russia

US President Barack Obama has warned Moscow that Washington is also ready to impose "costs" over its actions in Ukraine.

The White House has described Russia's actions in Crimea as "dangerous and destabilizing", and said the international community would not recognise the results of a poll "administered under threats of violence".

She said the EU "can't simply sit back and say this situation can be allowed to happen", but that ministers needed to think carefully about what their response should be.

"I call upon Russia yet again to meet with Ukrainian leaders and to start a dialogue with them, and to try to move to de-escalation, please, as quickly as possible. We've seen no evidence of that," she told reporters.

Speaking in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the "so-called referendum" was "illegal under the constitution of Ukraine and under international law".

The bloc has already suspended talks on an economic pact with Russia and an easing of visa restrictions.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels are discussing the bloc's response, including imposing a visa ban and an asset freeze against a number of Russian officials.

Many ethnic Ukrainians – who make up 24% of the population – also said they would not vote.

The Tatars were deported to Central Asia by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1944. They were only able to return with the fall of the Soviet Union and many want to remain in Ukraine.

But Crimea's Tatar population – about 12% of the population – said they would boycott the vote, fearing their lives would be worse under the Kremlin.

Ukraine's chief electoral official, Mikhail Malyshev, said the vote was nearly 97% in favour of joining the Russian Federation, with a turnout of 83%.

Daniel Sandford reports from Crimea: ''Wild scenes in Simferopol''

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There was no option for those who wanted the constitutional arrangements to remain unchanged.

The referendum on breaking from Ukraine and joining Russia was called in early March by the Crimean parliament in early March, with voters asked to choose between joining Russia, or having greater autonomy within Ukraine.

Russia officially insists the troops under not under its command but as pro-Russia self defence forces. Kiev says Crimea – which has a majority ethnic Russian population – is under military occupation.

The Crimean peninsula, which borders Ukraine and Russia, has been under the control of pro-Russian armed forces since late February.

The document approved by MPs also appealed to "all countries of the world to recognise it as an independent state".

The region will adopt the Russian currency, the rouble, and will move to Moscow time – two hours ahead – by the end of March.

According to the vote in Crimea's parliament on Monday, Ukrainian laws now no longer apply in the region and all state Ukrainian state property belongs to an independent Crimea.

Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov described the referendum as a "great farce" which "will never be recognised either by Ukraine or by the civilised world".

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev has formally approved the partial mobilisation of 40,000 reservists, in response to what it called the "war-time situation".

The vote was boycotted by many among Crimea's minority Ukrainian and Tatar population, and the election process has been widely criticised.

According to the declaration approved by Crimean MPs, the region:

Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has called the vote "a circus performance" which had been backed up by "21,000 Russian troops, who with their guns are trying to prove the legality of the referendum".

The BBC's Ben Brown says a "huge number of people in the minority population" abstained from Sunday's vote

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The crisis follows the ousting of Ukraine's pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych on 22 February, following months of street protests and deadly clashes.

Moscow says the troops are pro-Russian self-defence forces and not under its direct control.

The Crimean peninsula has been under the control of pro-Russia forces since late February.

The government in Kiev has said it will not recognise the results. The US and EU say the vote was illegal and have vowed to impose sanctions on Moscow.

It follows Sunday's controversial referendum which officials say overwhelmingly backed leaving Ukraine.

Crimea's parliament has formally declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation.

Russia 'planned Wall Street bear raid'

And maybe if the US is being a bit more robust than the EU in wanting to impose economic and financial sanctions on Russia, that may not all be about America's much lesser dependence (negligible dependence) on Russian gas and oil.

But this kind of intelligence from China on Russian desire and willingness to embarrass the US in a financial sense may help to explain – in a small way – why President Obama shows little desire to understand Crimea as seen by Mr Putin.

Paulson says this guerrilla skirmish in markets by the Russians and Chinese didn't happen.

For me this is pretty jaw-dropping stuff – the Chinese told Hank Paulson that the Russians were suggesting a joint pact with China to drive down the price of the debt of Fanny and Freddie, and maximize the turmoil on Wall Street – presumably with a view to maximizing the cost of the rescue for Washington and further damaging its financial health.

"Here I'm not going to name the senior person, but I was meeting with someone… This person told me that the Chinese had received a message from the Russians which was, 'Hey let's join together and sell Fanny and Freddie securities on the market.' The Chinese weren't going to do that but again, it just, it just drove home to me how vulnerable I felt until we had put Fanny and Freddie into conservatorship [the rescue plan for them, that was eventually put in place]."

Now this is where we enter the territory of a geopolitical thriller. Mr Paulson:

In other words, China had lent so much to the US that Mr Paulson needed to do his best to persuade its government and central bank that China's investment in all this US debt would not be impaired.

"And so when I went to Congress and asked for these emergency powers [to stabilize Fanny and Freddie], and I was getting the living daylights beaten out of me by our Congress publicly, I needed to call the Chinese regularly to explain to the Central Bank, 'listen this is our political system, this is political theatre, we will get this done'. And I didn't have quite that much certainty myself but I sure did everything I could to reassure them."

Mr Paulson: "I was talking to them [Chinese ministers and officials] regularly because I didn't want them to dump the securities on the market and precipitate a bigger crisis.

Or to put it another way, the Chinese government owned $1.7tn of mortgage-backed bonds issued by Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, and it was deeply concerned it would incur huge losses on these bonds.

"When Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac started to become unglued, and you know there were $5.4tn of securities relating to Fanny and Freddie, $1.7tn outside of the US. The Chinese were the biggest external investor holding Fanny and Freddie securities, so the Chinese were very, very concerned."

Here is Mr Paulson on the unfolding drama:

This person told me that the Chinese had received a message from the Russians which was, ‘Hey let’s join together and sell Fanny and Freddie securities on the market’”

Mr Paulson was talking about the financial crisis of the autumn of 2008, and in particular the devastation being wreaked on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two huge underwriters of American mortgages – huge financial institutions that had a funny status at the time of being seen by investors to be the liability of the US government, which in legal reality were not exactly that.

The excerpts I am about to quote never made it into the film, because they weren't relevant to it. But they give a fascinating understanding of the complex relationship between Washington and Moscow.

The depth of mistrust between the two was highlighted in the interview given by Hank Paulson, the former US treasury secretary, for my recent BBC Two documentary, How China Fooled The World.

There is a cynicism in the relationship between Russia and the US, being played out in the Crimean crisis, which is deep, rooted in history and shows that the triumph of capitalism over communism wasn't the end of the power game between these two nations.

Crimean parliament formally applies to join Russia

Speaking in parliament, interim President Oleksandr Turchynov described the referendum as a "great farce" which "will never be recognised either by Ukraine or by the civilised world".

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev formally approved the partial mobilisation of 40,000 reservists, in response to what it called the "war-time situation".

According to the vote in Crimea's parliament on Monday, Ukrainian laws no longer apply in the region and all state Ukrainian state property belongs to Crimea.

The crisis follows the ousting of Ukraine's pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych on 22 February, following months of street protests and deadly clashes.

Moscow says the troops are pro-Russian self-defence forces and not under its direct control.

The Crimean peninsula has been under the control of pro-Russia forces since late February.

The government in Kiev has said it will not recognise the results. The US and EU say the vote was illegal and have vowed to impose sanctions on Moscow.

It follows Sunday's referendum in which officials say nearly 97% of Crimeans voted to break away from Ukraine.

Crimea's parliament has formally declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation.

Crimea Parliament Declares Independence After Vote

A delegation of Crimean lawmakers is set to travel to Moscow Monday for negotiations on how to proceed further. Russian lawmakers have suggested that formally annexing Crimea is just a matter of time.

Sunday’s referendum is not recognized by the West, and the United States and the European Union are preparing sanctions against Russia, whose troops have been occupying Crimea for several weeks.

Crimea’s regional parliament has declared the region an independent state, after its residents voted overwhelmingly to break off from Ukraine and seek to join Russia, news agencies reported.