President Obama today signed an executive order that “authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people.”
“According to my guidance, the State Department has also put in place restrictions on the travel of certain individuals and officials. These decisions continue our efforts to impose a cost on Russia and those responsible for the situation in Crimea. And they also give us the flexibility to adjust our response going forward based on Russia’s actions,” Obama said in the press briefing room at the White House.
Obama said “international unity” has been leading the way on the Ukraine crisis.
He said a proposed referendum on the future of Crimea wouldn’t be legitimate if it doesn’t 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 stressed that he still wants to resolve the crisis through diplomacy.
“Let international monitors into all of Ukraine, including Crimea, to ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are being respected, including ethnic Russians. Begin consultations between the government of Russia and Ukraine, with the participation of the international community. Russia would maintain its basing rights in Crimea, provided that it abides by its agreements and respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. And the world should support the people of Ukraine as they move to elections in May,” he said.
“That’s the path of de-escalation, and Secretary Kerry is engaged in discussions with all of the relevant parties, including Russia and Ukraine to pursue that path. But if this violation of international law continues, the resolve of the United States, and our allies and the international community will remain firm. Meanwhile, we’ve taken steps to reaffirm our commitment to the security and democracy of our allies in Eastern Europe and to support the people of Ukraine.”