US President Barack Obama on Thursday announced further sanctions against prominent Russians and cleared the way for possible sanctions on key sectors of the Russian economy in response to Moscow's seizure of the Crimea region from Ukraine.
The US president, speaking at the White House, said Russia's threats to southern and eastern Ukraine posed a serious risk of escalation of the crisis in the region.
"We're imposing sanctions on more senior officials of the Russian government. In addition, we are today sanctioning a number of other individuals with substantial resources and influence who provide material support to the Russian leadership, as well as a bank that provides material support to these individuals."
Shortly after Obama announced the expansion of sanctions against Russia, Moscow announced it has imposed entry bans on nine US lawmakers and officials in retaliation to Washington's sanctions over Crimea.
The Russian Foreign Ministry released the list that includes John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Robert Menendez, the head of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, other senators and administration officials.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said that issuing sanctions lists against Russia was unacceptable.
"Finding some of the names on this list causes nothing but an extreme embarrassment, but no matter what the names are, finding any lists is unacceptable for us," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.
"In any case, Russia's reaction to these lists will be based on a reciprocity principle and will not be long in coming," he added.
The White House, which on Monday announced a first round of sanctions against 11 Russians and Ukrainians
it said were involved with the Crimea annexation, was expected to detail the targets of the expanded sanctions shortly after Obama spoke.
Obama said he had signed a new executive order expanding the US government's authority to take measures against economic sectors.
"This is not our preferred outcome... However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community," the president said. He was speaking on the White House south lawn before leaving on a trip to Florida.
"Over the last several days, we've continued to be deeply concerned by events in Ukraine," Obama said, citing what he called an illegal referendum in Crimea, an illegitimate move to annex the territory Crimea, and "dangerous risks of escalation, including threats" to Ukraine.
"These are all choices that the Russian government has made, choices that have been rejected by the international community as well as the government of Ukraine. And because of these choices the United States is today moving, as we said we would, to impose additional costs on Russia," he said.
As a result of Treasury’s action, any assets of the persons designated Thursday that are within US jurisdiction must be frozen. Additionally, transactions by US persons or within the United States involving the individuals and entity designated today are generally prohibited.
Viktor Ozerov is the Chairman of the Security and Defense Committee of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. On March 1, 2014, Ozerov supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s appeal regarding the use of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine.
Vladimir Dzhabarov is the First Deputy Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. On March 1, 2014, Dzhabarov supported the Putin’s appeal regarding the use of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine.
Evgeni Bushmin is the Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. On March 1, 2014, Bushmin publicly supported the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine.
Nikolai Ryzhkov is a Senator in the Russian Upper House of Parliament (Federation Council). Ryzhkov publicly supported the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine.
Sergei Zheleznyak is the Deputy Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
Sergei Mironov is a Member of the Council of the State Duma, a Member of the State Duma Committee on Housing Policy and Housing and Communal Services, and Leader of the Fair Russia Faction in the Duma of the Russian Federation.
Aleksandr Totoonov is a Member of the Committee on Culture, Science, and Information, Federation Council of the Russian Federation. On March 1, 2014, Totoonov publicly supported the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine.
Oleg Panteleev is the First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Parliamentary Issues. On March 1, 2014, Panteleev publicly supported the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine.
Sergey Naryshkin has been the Chairman of the Government Duma of the Federal Gathering of the Russian Federation since December, 2011. Additionally, he is a member of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation and of the United Russia party.
Victor Ivanov has been director of the Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) of the Russian Federation since May 15, 2008; he was appointed as a member of the Security Council of the Russian Federation on May 25, 2008. Ivanov has served in a number of other government positions prior to that; he was Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation from 2004 - 2008; and Deputy Chief of the Administration of the Russian Federation from 2000 - 2004. Ivanov joined the KGB in 1977 and eventually rose to become the Deputy Director of the Federal Security Service. Ivanov is a close ally of Putin and served alongside Putin as the chief of staff of the St. Petersburg Mayor’s office in 1994 when Putin was first deputy head of the city’s administration.
Igor Sergun is the head of Russia’s military intelligence service (GRU) and is Deputy Chief of the General Staff.
Sergei Ivanov is the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office.
Alexei Gromov is the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office.
Andrei Fursenko is an aide to the President of the Russian Federation and has been in that position since May 21, 2012. Fursenko has held a number of positions in the Government of the Russian Federation since 2001, including Minister of Education and Science from 2004 - 2012. Although not being designated for being a member of the Russian leadership’s inner circle, Fursenko first met Putin in 1993 and they remain closely associated.
Vladimir Yakunin was appointed as chairman of the board of the Russian state-owned company Russian Railways on June 15, 2005; he has remained as head of the company ever since. Yakunin is being designated because of his official position in the Russian government, but he is also a close confidant of Putin. Yakunin regularly consults with Putin on issues regarding the Russian Railways company. In addition, Yakunin accompanies Putin on many domestic and international visits. Yakunin met Putin while both were working in St. Petersburg. Yakunin decided to create a business center in the city and contacted Putin for his support. In addition, Yakunin became a member of the board of the Baltic Maritime Steamship Company on Putin’s instructions. Yakunin and Putin were also neighbors in the elite dacha community on the shore of Lake Komsomolsk and they served as cofounders of the Ozero Dacha Cooperative in November 1996.
Vladimir Kozhin was appointed the Head of Administration under the President of the Russian Federation by Putin on January 21, 2000. He has served continuously in that position until the present time. Kohzin is responsible for overseeing a staff of 60,000, over a hundred enterprises and institutions including the Kremlin and several other government buildings, and over four thousand vehicles. Kohzin’s positions have been variously referred to as Head of Administration, Head of the Presidential Affairs Office, Head of the Presidential Business Management Directorate of the Russian Federation, and head of the Presidential Property Management Directorate.
Members of the Inner Circle:
The following individuals are being designated because each is controlled by, has acted for or on behalf of, or has provided material or other support to, a senior Russian government official.
Gennady Timchenko is one of the founders of Gunvor, one of the world’s largest independent commodity trading companies involved in the oil and energy markets. Timchenko’s activities in the energy sector have been directly linked to Putin. Putin has investments in Gunvor and may have access to Gunvor funds.
Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg have provided support to Putin’s pet projects by receiving and executing high price contracts for the Sochi Olympic Games and state-controlled Gazprom. They have made billions of dollars in contracts for Gazprom and the Sochi Winter Olympics awarded to them by Putin. Both brothers have amassed enormous amounts of wealth during the years of Putin’s rule in Russia. The Rotenberg brothers received approximately $7 billion in contracts for the Sochi Olympic Games and their personal wealth has increased by $2.5 billion in the last two years alone.
Yuri Kovalchuk is the largest single shareholder of Bank Rossiya and is also the personal banker for senior officials of the Russian Federation including Putin. Kovalchuk is a close advisor to President Putin and has been referred to as one of his “cashiers.”
The following entity is being designated because it is controlled by, has acted for or on behalf of, or has provided material or other support to, senior Russian government officials.
Bank Rossiya (ОАО АБ РОССИЯ) is the personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation. Bank Rossiya’s shareholders include members of Putin’s inner circle associated with the Ozero Dacha Cooperative, a housing community in which they live. Bank Rossiya is also controlled by Kovalchuk, designated today. Bank Rossiya is ranked as the 17th largest bank in Russia with assets of approximately $10 billion, and it maintains numerous correspondent relationships with banks in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. The bank reports providing a wide range of retail and corporate services, many of which relate to the oil, gas, and energy sectors.
Associated Press contributed to this report.