UPDATE: 3/18/2014 7:57am
President Vladimir Putin has defended Russia’s move to annex Crimea, saying that the rights of ethnic Russians have been abused by the Ukrainian government.
In a televised address to the nation today, Putin says Crimea’s vote Sunday to join Russia is in line with international law, reflecting its right for self-determination.
He points at the example of Kosovo’s independence bid, supported by the West, and says that Crimea’s secession from Ukraine repeats Ukraine’s own secession from the Soviet Union in 1991.
He denies Western accusations that Russia invaded Crimea prior to the referendum, saying Russian troops were sent there in line with a treaty with Ukraine that allows Russia to have up to 25,000 troops at its Black Sea Fleet base in Crimea.
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama says new U.S. sanctions imposed on Russian officials make it clear “that there are consequences for their actions” in Crimea and he’s warning that the U.S. stands ready to impose further sanctions if necessary.
The president stressed that the government has the authority to go after officials in the Russian arms sector and those who support Russian cronies if the government doesn’t pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
Obama on Monday froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials for their support of Crimea’s vote to secede from Ukraine in the most comprehensive sanctions against Russia since the end of the Cold War. The Treasury Department also is imposing sanctions on four Ukrainians involved in the separatist effort.