(Washington, D.C.) The United States and European Union announced sanctions including asset freezes and travel bans on officials from Russia and Ukraineafter Crimea applied to join Russia on Monday following a controversial weekend referendum.
“We’ll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world,” President Barack Obama said. “The international community will continue to stand together to oppose any violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and continued Russia military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia’s diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russia economy.”
The sanctions came after Crimea’s Moscow-backed leaders declared an overwhelming 96.7% vote in favor of leaving Ukraine and being annexed by Russia in a vote that Western powers said was illegal. Turnout was 83%.
The result did not come as a surprise.
But what happens next is far from certain. Diplomatically, Sunday’s referendum has put the United States and Russia on the kind of collision course not seen since the Cold War. Economically, it’s unclear how much such a coupling will cost Russia.
And politically, it’s divided Crimeans, some of whom think it will bring better pay and some who see this as a Kremlin land grab.