EU, US Impose Sanctions, Asset Freezes, Travel Bans in Wake of Crimea Referendum


Credit: VOA News/wikipedia

Yesterday, some of the residents of Crimea voted on whether they wanted to join Russia or increase the autonomy of the Ukrainian peninsula. Residents could not vote to maintaining the status quo. According to officials, over 97 percent of those who voted backed joining Russia. CNN reported that many ethnic Ukrainians and Tatars boycotted the vote and that 80 percent of those who showed up at a polling station in the city of Bakhchysaray were not on the electoral roll. The government in Kiev says it will not recognize the results.

The European Union and the U.S. had warned Russia that if the referendum, which they said was illegal, went ahead there would be consequences. Today, the E.U. announced travel bans and asset freezes on 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials and President Obama signed an executive order expanding already existing sanctions that, according to the White House, intend to "impose costs on named individuals who wield influence in the Russian government and those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine." The executive order targets seven Russian government officials, two Crimea separatist leaders, and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, and former chief of staff Viktor Medvedchuk.

The news of the E.U. and American measures comes on the same day that Russian Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Belyakov said that the state of the Russian economy "shows clear signs of a crisis." According to Reuters, many economists expect Russia to enter recession and billions of dollars worth of capital has left the country since the beginning of the year. However, the E.U. and U.S. actions announced today target individuals, and The Irish Times notes that traders believe that the sanctions and other punitive measures from the West are mostly symbolic. 

Speaking today about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Obama said that he told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the recent Crimean referendum violated the Ukrainian constitution and international law and said that the U.S. is willing to impose further costs on Russian officials. 

More from Reason on Ukraine here

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  1. What’s the over/under on Obama being inept enough to actually entangle us in the early stages of WWIII?

    1. uhh, I don’t know how that question lends itself to an over/under? 🙂

      1. Could it be done in megatons?

      2. Well played sir.

        /tip of the top hat to you.

    2. 3 days. I’ll take the over.

      1. does that mean you think it’ll be three days and then the world as we know it is over?

    3. Very low. He’d have to actually have a backbone to risk that.

      Far more likely is that he trashes US credibility even further by making sweeping declarative guarantees of protection to the Ukraine and then doing pretty much nothing when the shooting war starts (and just to be clear that shooting war probably doesn’t happen unless the Ukrainians are certain of Nato protection)

      1. Did Chamberlain or Buchanan have backbones?

        1. Chamberlain no, haven’t really studied Buchanan so I can’t say.

          That said there is a decided difference between appeasement of an enemy you could realistically fight and risking a war you have virtually no chance of winning against an enemy with enough nukes to vaporize your country.

          Obama is highly unlikely to “negotiate” a settlement with Putin and even if he tried Putin knows he holds all the cards in this particular game and so he’d have no reason to even listen. However, there is also 0 chance that he would put US boots on the ground or even send in the Air Force to aid the Ukrainian forces in a shooting war against Russia, even if he believed it was the right thing to do.

          1. I wasn’t suggesting that “backbone” meant war with Russia over Crimea.

  2. Speaking of…

    There seems to be a new ammo panic, based on fears of an embargo against Wolf, Tula, and other former Eastern Bloc producers. I guess I should have grabbed a few boxes the other day.

    1. did the old one even end, I haven’t seen 62 grain 5.56 in ages (normal 55 grain in standard .223 Remington has performance issues in 1/7 twist AR’s)

      1. There is no real reason that 55gr bullets shouldn’t work in a 1/7 twist. Unless the jacket is too thin, then it might become distorted or even come apart. But then, I assume you are using FMJ bullets. If you reload, you might try a different brand of bullet, with a heavier jacket. I have had a couple of lightly-jacketed bullets come apart in my .220 Swift.

  3. Huh. It’s interesting that the Russians were willing to so blatantly rig the election, which just gives the rest of the planet ammunition for opposing the move. Why not just 75%?

    If I were the EU, I’d seriously consider finding alternative energy options and maybe beefing up the military. Russia is nowhere near the threat it once was in conventional terms, but no point in looking too soft.

    1. If they were really snarky, they would have made it the exact percentage O! was reelected with…

      1. But that would make the margin of victory so slim that no one in their right mind could possibly declare any kind of mandate…

        1. You mean Obama’s presidency wasn’t a mandate? Then why do we all agree that he’s just the dreamiest ever?

    2. If I were the EU, I’d seriously consider finding alternative energy options

      I think this is one of the things Putin is counting on. No one with that kind of sense is calling shots in the EU.

    3. This is just Putin being Putin, the vote gives him a popular mandate at home to go ahead with the annexation and he knows that Ukraine can’t beat him militarily and his nukes will prevent anyone else from doing anything militarily to stop him. He also knows that Europe needs his oil and natural gas to survive so the sanctions against Russia for doing this just aren’t going to amount to much.

      Face it Putin is the Bond villian’s Bond villian. He’s rigged this game so that there is almost no downside for him. He gets everything he wants and there really isn’t anything anyone can do to stop him.

      1. We could start exporting LNG to Europe. That’s really the only meaningful thing we can do.

        1. easier said than done. They send it in via pipeline from Russia, we’d have to ship it over. Where are all the Seagoing LNG transport ships going to come from? How long will it take to build the necessary port facilities to store and distribute it from those ports? How much less cost efficient is it to ship it across the Atlantic vs pipe it from Siberia?

          Sure we could do that in an emergency if we had to, as a practical matter it would be decades before we could build up the necessary transport infrastructure to replace the Russian pipelines, they’d be better off just cranking out more Nuke plants.

          1. As I understand it Cheniere is already doing work to turn their terminal in Louisiana around; it would not take very long to start exporting if approvals were rushed.

            1. That would take care of the shipping side but are there enough terminal facilities in Europe to receive it?

              1. Is shipping LNG as efficient as using a pipeline? I’d think without some sort of meddling in the market this won’t happen. Of course, sending in troops to annex goodies from your neighbor is meddling too.

            2. We could probably be ready to ship it there pretty quickly since we already ship tons of the stuff around various US ports. The question is how quickly they could get their ports ready to receive it and build a distribution system to get it from the ports to the end users and how much tonnage of ocean going LNG ships are currently available. Remember, places like Boston and New York rely on those ships for their Natural Gas supplies too and it is unlikely that there is a huge surplus of unused shipping capacity.

        2. B-b-but, TEH EVUL FRACKKKING!!111!!!!!11!! No, what Europe needs to do to get off of Russian oil is to build MOAR WIND FARMZ, that’ll show those Russkies what’s up! Plus, think of the JERBZ!!!1!!!! /progderp

          1. A+, Loki. That is a fine, high-quality comment.

        3. As I understand it, Europe has a quite a bit of NG that could be tapped using fracking, but refuses to do so over overblown environmental concerns.

    4. no it is basically the same threat, not as large without the full USSR, but they are still capable of kicking the crap out of everyone but the US and China.

  4. Some Ukrainian Americans were out picketing Lukoil service stations in the Phila. area this weekend. The tv reporter said “they claim it is Russian-owned.” Lazy ass reporting – ten seconds on Wiki shows Lukoil is Russia’s second largest oil company. “Claimed” my arse.

  5. Russian annexation of Crimea just further dilutes Russia’s influence on the rest of Ukraine. There is nothing to be gained by interfering at this point. Crimea is de facto Russian territory and that isn’t going to change any time soon.

    1. I’m with you on that. This seals the rest of the Ukraine’s alignment with the West, while ultimately spells Putin’s own doom, as it presents an alternative vision of Slavic democracy without strongmen.

      My one main worry is that the ease with which they took Crimea will give Russia’s old-line revanchinsts dreams of glory and hopes that they might rebuild their lost empire. Those are dangerous dreams.

  6. No, not sanctions! I’m sure ol’ Putin is cowering under the covers.

  7. Murder them all! Fuck Putin! Harglebargle! Blood! Blood! Blood!

    /this weekend’s sockpuppets

    1. I’m so glad I don’t come around on weekends. Sounds like a regular derpfest.

      1. It was a shitshow. Six or seven You Know Who handles were banned. Tulpa crawled out from under a rock to prove once again he is incapable of shame, and the warboners held a blood bukkake session all over Putin. It was tedious in the extreme.

        1. What?!? You didn’t enjoy our resident Canadien chickenhawk whine that libertarians don’t understand the benefits of imperialism in bring enlightenment to the unwashed?

          1. Who is our resident Canadian chickenhawk?

            1. Cytotoxic.

              1. Ah. I didn’t realize he was from canukistan.

          2. Cytotoxic was fairly reasonable compared to Concern Troll Lyle’s profanity-laced inanities.

            1. That’s exactly what I would expect someone enjoying Putin’s succor to say

  8. OT: Is H&R’s formatting all fucked up for anyone else? It’s doing this strange thing where the posts appear to be in columns but they’re all kind jumbled up on top of each other. It’s really fucked up. I’ve noticed the last couple of weeks it’s done it on some of the articles with embedded videos in them, but now it’s doing it with the entire H&R page.

    1. Yes, it al all effed up for me, far worse than anything I’ve ever seen.

    2. looks the same to me – *cough* scriptblocker

  9. btw those 21 targets of US sanctions will more than make up for their losses with rewards from Putin. Crony Capitalism at it’s finest.

  10. At 97% approval, I wonder how anyone can take the results seriously. Apparently, even Crimea’s Ukranian and Tartar populations love Russia and wants to be a part of it. It’s almost like Russia is *taunting* us with the fakeness of the referendum. They aren’t even trying to make it look legitimate.

    Second, this isn’t going to be WWIII, although maybe Russia wants to to be, because Russia’s military is no where near being capable of fighting NATO forces. For the last 10 years or so we’ve been deferring to the Russians by pretending they are still a great power, when in reality, they are at best a middling one. Their military equipment is outdated and crumbling. If we got into a serious shooting war, they would get their asses kicked. The only thing they have that evens the balance is the fact that they have nukes.

    Putin wouldn’t be risking this if he didn’t think that the West was such complete pussies that we’d do nothing to stop him.

    1. While it is true that Russia is not a global power it is a regional one and this is happening in their own back yard.

      While we could eventually beat them in a conventional war the idea that we could just pop in and stop them from annexing Crimea, or hell even all of Ukraine is ridiculous. That war would quickly spread to a truly global war and the odds of China not taking advantage of our being busy to take control of most or all of Asia are nil.

      Also, while we’re on the subject of outdated military equipment, with the exception of the F22 we haven’t fielded a major new Air or ground combat system since the early 1990’s so it is not like we have this stockpile of technologically superior super weapons. The fact is the latest Russian designs for Helicopters, Tanks, Artillery, and Jets is every bit the equal of what we have they just have very small quantities of their newest stuff

      1. Shouldn’t we be past the age when countries had “back yards”?

        The whole imperial sphere of influence thing seems so retrograde.

        I can’t take seriously the idea that we have some sort of moral obligation to let Russia invade, occupy, and install puppet government’s over, a collection of other otherwise sovreign nations that we would otherwise recognize as free people’s with as much self-determination right as any other country. What the fuck gives Russia any “right” to oppress other people in their “back yard”?

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