U.S. President Barack Obama has announced new sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea.
Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, the president said he is imposing sanctions on more individuals and a bank involved in Russia's occupation of the Black Sea peninsula. Earlier the United States placed sanctions limiting travel and economic activity several people involved in the Kremlin's actions against Ukraine.
The president also said he is considering expanding sanctions further, to apply to sectors of the Russian economy in addition to specific individuals.
Mr. Obama said he is deeply concerned about the situation in Crimea and is working with European allies to formulate a response to the Russian actions.
European leaders, who were set meet in Brussels to discuss the crisis, were also expected to add names to the list of 21 Russian and Crimean officials the European Union has already targeted for travel bans and asset freezes.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her nation's parliament Thursday if the situation worsens, the European Union is prepared to move to "Level 3" measures, which would include broader economic sanctions.
Chancellor Merkel said the Group of Eight forum of leading economies is effectively suspended as long as the diplomatic standoff with Russia continues. ussia is part of the G8, along with Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.
Russian forces effectively took control of Crimea two weeks ago in the wake of the ouster of Ukraine's pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, after months of protests and sporadic violence.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday that in response to Mr. Obama's announcement of new sanctions against Russian government officials and parliamentary deputies it would impose sanctions on nine American officials and legislators.
The ministry said Moscow has repeatedly warned Washington sanctions are a "boomerang" that "will hit the United States itself."
It also insisted that Crimea voted to unite with Russia, in its words, "in a democratic way in full accordance with international law and the United Nations Charter."