Obama Signs Order Targeting Key Sectors of Russian Economy

US reassures its alliesU.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday expanded US economic sanctions against Moscow, targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff and 19 other individuals as well as a Russian bank that provides them support. Obama, warning of more costs to come for the Kremlin because of its actions in Ukraine, said he also signed an executive order that would allow the US to penalize key sectors of the Russian economy.

Officials said Obama could act on that authority if Russian forces press into other areas of Ukraine, an escalation of the crisis in Crimea.

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The sanctions, which were announced to the media on the White House lawn, followed a first round of economic penalties levied earlier in the week on 11 people the US said were involved in the dispute in Ukraine. Those named in the new sanctions include Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s chief of staff and a longtime associate, as well as Arkady Rotenberg and Gennady Timchenko, both lifelong Putin friends whose companies have amassed billions of U.S. dollars in government contracts. Also sanctioned: Bank Rossiya, a private bank that is owned by Yuri Kovalchuk, who is considered to be Putin’s banker.

The US has declared Russia’s incursion into Crimea a violation of international law and does not recognize its annexation of the peninsula. Still, US officials privately acknowledge that Russia is unlikely to give up Crimea. Instead, their top priority is keeping Russia from moving into other areas of Ukraine with pro-Russian populations. Senior administration officials said the individuals targeted by Thursday’s sanctions will have assets frozen in the United States, will be barred from doing any business in the US and will be unable to make transactions in American dollars.

This report compiled with information from the Associated Press.