US Considers Sanctions Against Russian Defense Sector –

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama threatened sanctions against Moscow’s defense sector Thursday upon announcing the American government would punish 16 individuals in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The response comes as Russian troops continue operating in the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow plans to formally annex later this week.

“I signed a new executive order today that gives us the authority to impose sanctions not just on individuals, but on key sectors of the Russian economy,” Obama said. “This is not our preferred outcome. These sanctions would not only have a significant impact on the Russian economy, but could also be disruptive to the global economy; however, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community.”

US officials say they are concerned about continued Russian military movements that could threaten southern and eastern Ukraine.

“It would be a substantial escalation for Russia to move into southern and eastern Ukraine,” one senior administration official said.

The sanctions against the Russian individuals on Thursday come in addition to penalties imposed earlier this month.

Administration officials said they have no plans to send US forces to Ukraine, but are in talks with Kiev about ways to address immediate needs.

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