People wave Russian flags as fireworks explode in the sky over Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine, yesterday
VIENNA/WASHINGTON: The US and the European Union have retaliated over the Crimea referendum by targeting sanctions against Russians and Ukrainians.
European foreign ministers imposed EU-wide sanctions yesterday against 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials linked to unrest in Crimea. Washington followed up an hour later with a list of its own, targeting seven top Russian government officials and politicians and four Crimea-based separatist leaders accused of undermining the “democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine”. European ministers and EU officials said the 21 people — mainly political figures involved in the breakaway of Crimea rather than business figures — would face a freeze on assets as well as a travel ban.
US President Barack Obama is to visit Europe next week for discussion of the crisis with allies. Speaking to journalists at the White House, he said the new sanctions increase the costs on the Russian government for its actions. “If Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions,” Obama said. The US president said that if Russia did not back off, it could expect additional sanctions. Russia responded by insisting the sanctions would have little impact.