Russian Black Sea Fleet submarines at the Crimean port of Sevastopol. Russia’s Lower House of parliament yesterday overwhelmingly approved a treaty to annex Crimea from Ukraine, leaving just one legal obstacle for the Black Sea peninsula to cross before it is formally absorbed by Moscow.
MOSCOW: Russia imposed retaliatory sanctions on nine US officials and lawmakers yesterday as tension over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea mounted, warning the West it would hit back over “every hostile thrust.”
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the US sanctions imposed this week were unacceptable and the Kremlin would act on the principle of reciprocity.
Three White House officials and five senators — Harry Reid, Robert Menendez, John McCain, Mary Landrieu and Dan Coats — were among the Americans barred from Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner is also on the list.
“We have repeatedly warned that sanctions are a double-edged instrument and would hit the US like a boomerang,” the ministry said.
“There must be no doubt: We will respond adequately to every hostile thrust.” Moscow’s action follows US sanctions on Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean individuals announced by President Barack Obama on Monday and again yesterday.
The latest US sanctions, which also involved a bank, targets several people close to Putin. Any assets they have in the US will be frozen and they will be barred from US travel.
“The appearance of some of the names on the list causes nothing but extreme perplexity,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“But no matter what the names are, the practice of (issuing sanctions) lists is unacceptable for us.” White House officials cited by Moscow are senior Obama Adviser Dan Pfeiffer and Deputy National Security Advisers Ben Rhodes and Caroline Atkinson. Lawmakers in Washington welcomed their new designation.
“If standing up for the Ukrainian people, their freedom, their hard earned democracy, and sovereignty means I’m sanctioned by Putin, so be it,” said Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.