An effort to ensure recent cease-fire holds
President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the United States would “deepen and broaden” its sanctions on Russia for its actions in eastern Ukraine, despite last week’s cease-fire reached between the government of Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists.
American and European officials have been preparing the additional sanctions for weeks, and decided to press ahead with them this week. “We have yet to see conclusive evidence that Russia has ceased its efforts to destabilize Ukraine,” Obama said in a statement, noting that the U.S. is taking the action in response to the presence of Russian military forces in eastern Ukraine over the last month.
The specific sanctions will be detailed Friday, when the European Union will also outline a new round of economic sanctions against Russia. “We will deepen and broaden sanctions in Russia’s financial, energy, and defense sectors,” Obama said. “These measures will increase Russia’s political isolation as well as the economic costs to Russia, especially in areas of importance to President Putin and those close to him.”
Obama hinted at the additional sanctions last week, suggesting that ratcheting up the pressure was the most likely way to ensure compliance with the cease-fire. “It’s my view that if you look at President Poroshenko’s plan, it is going to take some time to implement,” Obama said last week following a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Wales. “And as a consequence, for us to move forward based on what is currently happening on the ground with sanctions—while acknowledging that if, in fact, the elements of the plan that has been signed are implemented then those sanctions could be lifted—is a more likely way for us to ensure that there’s follow-through.”
“If Russia fully implements its commitments, these sanctions can be rolled back,” Obama said Thursday. “If, instead, Russia continues its aggressive actions and violations of international law, the costs will continue to rise.”