US, EU announce sanctions against Russia after Crimea referendum to leave Ukraine

By Daniel S Levine,

Hours after the Crimean Parliament voted to leave Ukraine, the U.S. and the European Union have announced sanctions against officials believed to have taken part in Sunday’s referendum. The West and Kiev have called the vote, in which 97 percent of those who voted approved leaving Ukraine, illegal.

After the referendum, Crimean politicians moved quickly to vote for splitting from Kiev. At the moment, they consider Crimea it’s own state and are asking to join the Russian Federation.

U.S. President Barack Obama has warned against Russian annexation of Crimea. The White House and EU officials immediately started working on what their next moves would be.

USA Today reports that the EU has decided to sanction 21 officials from Ukraine and Russia. EU officials aren’t expected to say who the 21 are until Tuesday, but the White House has said that there could be overlap.

As for the White House, they have imposed sanctions against seven high-level Russian officials. The BBC notes that the U.S. also announced sanctions against four separatist leaders in Crimea.

“The United States also will seek to hold accountable individuals who use their resources or influence to support or act on behalf of senior Russian government officials,” the administration said. “We recognize that the Russian leadership derives significant support from, and takes action through, individuals who do not themselves serve in any official capacity.”

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