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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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 - hmn...talk 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 Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs