President Barack Obama announced fresh sanctions against Russia on Tuesday in response to Moscow's involvement in the crisis in Ukraine. The sanctions targeted key parts of Russia's economy, including the energy, arms and finance sectors.
"Today, Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of ... progress, and it doesn't have to come to this," Obama said from the White House. "It doesn't have to be this way. This is a choice that Russia, and President [Vladimir] Putin, in particular, has made."
The new sanctions are in addition to similar penalties announced two weeks ago, a day before Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in an incident Kiev and Western intelligence sources are blaming on pro-Russia separatists. Obama said the second round of sanctions suspends credit that encourages exports to Russia and economic development in the country.
The announcement was coupled with additional sanctions from the European Union also targeting Russia's finance, energy and defense sectors. The EU sanctions include cutting off financing to state-owned banks, stopping the exporting of goods and technology to Russia, and prohibiting the export and import of new arms.
"The sanctions announced today will have a bigger bite," Obama said, adding that they make "a weak Russian economy even weaker." The president estimated that $100 billion in investment is expected to flee Russia and Moscow's projected growth is estimated to be "near zero."
"Russia and its proxies in Ukraine have failed to cooperate with the investigation" into MH17, Obama said. The president claimed pro-Russia separatists tampered with evidence and said the rebels "continue to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft." He also accused Moscow of supporting, training and arming the separatists, and said intelligence shows Russia launched artillery strikes against Ukraine. Obama added Moscow is building up forces near the Ukrainian border and is transferring more Russian military equipment to the separatists.
"If Russia continues on its current path, the cost on Russia will continue to grow," he said.