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Obama Announces Additional Sanctions on Russians Involved in Crimea

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 on 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.

In response, Russia's Foreign Ministry announced Thursday it was imposing sanctions, including travel bans, on nine U.S. officials, among them Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Harry Reid.

European leaders, who were meeting 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. Russia 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.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday named Russian government officials and what it called "members of the inner circle," 16 people in all, who are being targeted for sanctions.

The list includes Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament; Sergei Ivanov, Mr. Putin's chief of staff; and Vladimir Yakunin, head of the state-owned company Russian Railways, described as a "close confidant" of the Russian president.

Also on the list is Gennady Timchenko, a founder of Gunvor, one the world's largest independent commodity trading companies in the energy sector.

In 2007, Russian political expert Stanislav Belkovsky, citing Kremlin sources, told Britain's Guardian newspaper that Mr. Putin "effectively" controlled significant chunks of some of Russia largest energy companies, and at least 75 percent of Gunvor, a claim that Gunvor denied.

Belkovsky claimed Mr. Putin was worth "at least" $40 billion.

The U.S. Treasury's list of those targeted for sanctions also includes Yuri Kovalchuk, whom it described as the largest single shareholder in Bank Rossiya and "the personal banker" for senior Russian officials

Bank Rossiya itself is also on the sanctions list.

Earlier this week, Washington imposed sanctions on seven Russian officials, including an aide and an adviser to Mr. Putin (Vladislav Surkov and Sergei Glazyev).

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