US weighs more sanctions on Moscow as tanks cross into Ukraine from Russia

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WASHINGTON – With Russian tanks apparently crossing into southeastern Ukraine, President Barack Obama is suggesting the possibility of more sanctions on Russia.

The sanctions imposed so far have not deterred Russia, but uncertainty over their long-term impact has caused economic growth forecasts to plummet, prompted investors to pull money out of the country at almost twice the pace as last year and forced its central bank to raise rates to defend the Russian currency.

Russian stock markets dived on Thursday as Switzerland joined the European Union in imposing restrictions on Russian state banks and fears grew that the U.S. and EU could impose further sanctions on Russian businesses and individuals.

Obama said that sanctions already announced have had some impact, yet he conceded that they have not forced Russia to resolve the crisis diplomatically. “I think there are ways for us to deepen and expand the scope of some of that work,” he said.

A look at sanctions the U.S. and Europe have imposed on Russia:

U.S. SANCTIONS

In mid-July, the United States imposed sanctions on lucrative Russian energy and defence entities, as well as major banks.

The penalties significantly expanded on previous U.S. sanctions, which hit Russian individuals and companies with travel bans and asset freezes. But the new sanctions stopped short of fully cutting off key Russian economic sectors, a card that U.S. officials said they were holding in case Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine or took similar provocative actions.

The Treasury Department sanctions targeted two major Russian energy firms, Novatek and Rosneft, and a pair of leading Russian financial institutions, Gazprombank and VEB. The sanctions restrict the entities’ ability to access U.S. capital markets, officials said.

Eight Russian firms responsible for the production of small arms, mortar shells and tanks were also hit with sanctions.

Also included on the sanctions list were four individuals: Putin adviser Igor Shchegolev, Russian State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Neverov, Ukrainian separatist leader Aleksandr Borodai and Sergey Beseda, an official with Russia’s Federal Security Service, the intelligence agency that replaced the KGB after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

EU SANCTIONS

In late July, the European Union imposed widespread sanctions on Russia that ranged from freezing the assets and imposing travel banks on rich Russians to prohibiting banks controlled by the Russian government from selling bonds and shares on the EU market.

The EU, Russia’s biggest trading partner, also banned the export of certain oil exploration equipment — action intended to hamper long-term development of Russia’s oil industry. Moreover, the EU banned exports and imports of weaponry and other military goods to and from Russia.

The EU also has imposed asset freezes and travel bans on 95 Russian officials or pro-Russian Ukrainians held responsible for the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula or the destabilization of eastern Ukraine. They include three Putin associates: his former judo partner, Arkady Rotenberg, and the two largest shareholders of Bank Rossiya, Yuri Kovalchuk and Nikolai Shamalov.

In addition, 23 companies and institutions were sanctioned, including the subsidiary of the Russian state-owned Aeroflot airline that operates between Moscow and Crimea, and Almaz-Antei, which the EU said makes anti-aircraft missiles that separatists in Ukraine have used.

RUSSIA RETALIATION

After the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on Russia, Moscow responded with a one-year ban on food products, such as meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and milk, from the U.S. and Canada; all 28 EU countries, plus Norway and Australia.

Although the U.S., Canada and the European Union together are expected to take a more than a $17.5 billion hit from the one-year ban, Russian consumers were expected to feel it more than Western farmers.

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