News / USA

Washington React: US Imposes Visa Ban Amid Ukraine Crisis

U.S. President Barack Obama answers a question about the situation in Ukraine in Washington, D.C. March 4, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama answers a question about the situation in Ukraine in Washington, D.C. March 4, 2014.
Luis Ramirez
President Barack Obama says the United States considers an upcoming referendum on Ukraine's future illegal and on Thursday he ordered restrictions on U.S. visas and financial sanctions for Russians and Ukrainians who are impeding the democratic process in Ukraine.

The new set of visa restrictions and financial sanctions are part of what Obama says is the cost that Russia will have to pay for interfering in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters Thursday at a previously unannounced White House briefing, the president condemned a referendum that has now been set for March 16 on whether Ukraine's Crimea region should become part of Russia.

“The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and would violate international law.  Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine.  In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders,” he said.

Obama signed an executive order that authorizes sanctions on those responsible for violating what the president says are the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.   

U.S. officials did not name the individuals who will have their visas to visit the United States cancelled or denied, but said they will include both Russians and Ukrainians who have been most directly involved in destabilizing the country.

They declined to say whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will be among those targeted.

On Capitol Hill, some U.S. lawmakers praised the move. Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said penalties should be stepped up.

“Denying and revoking visas of Russian regime members who are connected to belligerent actions in Ukraine and freezing and prohibiting any of their U.S. property transactions are moves in the right direction, but now we must name and shame these persons,” she said.

The United States has protested what it says is Russia's deployment of troops in the Crimean peninsula - an act Washington says is in direct violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.

The Obama administration has been working to de-escalate the crisis.  Officials on Thursday said the penalties could be removed if Moscow returns its troops to Russian bases in Ukraine and recognizes Ukraine's new government.  At the same time, Washington warns it will step up sanctions if Russia should decide to move forces farther into eastern Ukraine.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been in Rome meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but there has been no agreement on ending the crisis.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Maciek from: Poland
March 08, 2014 4:33 AM
I'm with you, the USA, and if indeed it comes to military action that I will be one of those who, together with allies oppose aggression from Russia, I'm glad that the state immensely as great as the USA is not indifferent to this situation and you are ready together with the forces of uni European stand shoulder to shoulder and not leave ukraine same against such aggressive mad and unbridled President of Russia to be honest you are the only who can exert on it a fear and pressure to cease operations

by: Vince257 from: France
March 07, 2014 6:46 AM
Russia and Ukraine suffer from their money going abroad, mainly to UE and USA. Those sanctions will remind Russians, Ukrainians(and many others: Indians, Chinese people, and so on) not to trust "Occident" for investing money.
The whole money system is based on trust, and this trust should be backed by military forces/intelligence/propaganda. Obama and his administration, UE have made a terribly wrong move: they proved their army/intelligence/propaganda inefficient and that in addition they could not be trusted concerning money system! This is very, very bad for USA and UE.

In addition Obama seems like he somehow forgot he is half black: this is isn't good neither in Russia or Ukraine.

by: john Mac from: maribyrnong
March 07, 2014 1:00 AM
I don't know if Obama administration knows what they are doing ?. Their strategy base on .........."Hope."

by: çhukwuemeka ukor from: lagos nigeria
March 06, 2014 12:06 PM
I just dont know what putin wants.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
March 06, 2014 12:02 PM
This guy is daft. Is he helping Russia or what is he trying to do? Some Russians may want to leave the country and defect to USA, like Edward Snowden defected to Russia - of one good turn: USA may be asking for its pound of flesh as a result of Snowden snubbing - but visa restrictions will bastardize all of that. USA can pretend to seize the assets of rogue - rather stray - Russians who refused to listen to Putin's warning not to do so, which may be a thank you diplomacy for Putin (Lavrov) helping out during the Syria red-line saga - remember?

Yeah, it's a game, but I know as USA knows too, that Putin's Russia does not play the game of chess on the field of football. All the noise about sanctions should have their limit; after all it's been Russia holding the four aces in the negotiation of Iran's nuclear program, Syria's civil war, - all of which can impact the Middle East initiative (the Israelis and Palestinians) as well as SALT1 and SALT2 initiatives that have limited drastically the militarization of the Outer Space otherwise referred to by the late Ronald Regan as Stars Wars.

The West should grow up and find ways of curbing garrulous tendencies capable of reactivating the old order called the Cold War, NATO or not. Remember it's the nuclear age, and Russia has abundance of nuclear materials and capability. Of course we all know that with the exception of Lavrov, Russia is not too used to diplomacy. So we should try as much as possible to avoid situations that can make Russia revert to its old self.

by: Dmitriy from: Crimea
March 06, 2014 10:05 AM
Please help us here in Crimea. Russian invasion will kill us and they are going to migrate us to Far East of Russia. Putin wanna our genocide!!!!
In Response

by: Nessa from: UK
March 12, 2014 9:52 AM
First of all 56 % of Crimea population is Russian speakers and have close bond with Russia ( large number of the families of mariners from Russia live there ) . Those people also voted for ousted president of Ukraine and not happy to follow pro- western separatists. There is no proof to this point that Ukrainians in Crimea ( minority ) is suffering more than other people involved in a conflict around Ukraine, if so gives us some serious facts not bla bla bla …

By the way, I am originally from Belarus, and to me your comments sounds one-sided ! I am not supported of Russia however manufacturing, tourism in Ukraine similarly to Belarus attract business from Russian not the West !!!
In Response

by: Serg from: Ukraine
March 10, 2014 8:38 AM
We will be killed by the government is much faster than the Russian military. Our president has betrayed us. Pensions are not allowed. Salaries are not allowed. Our family will not survive if it would. My father is very ill. I cant go to America because my family have no money even for food. This war will bring death to the Ukrainian people.
In Response

by: musawi melake
March 06, 2014 3:03 PM
Well, the US and the West have abetted and oversw many Genocides, and saved the perpetrators at venues like UNHRC by giving the authority to investigate and deliver justice to the same perpetrators(like asking the murder to find out wheather he really did it and if so decide the punishment). They surely will do so as long as they remain powerful and are able to dictate terns to less capable entities. The same may be true for Russia, i.e. as long as they have nukes, resources and permanent seat at the UN, they decide!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs