Crisis in Ukraine
President Obama on Tuesday announced new U.S. sanctions on Russia, in response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 earlier this month in an area of Ukraine held by Russian-backed rebels. Obama said the sanctions target "key sectors of the Russian economy: energy, arms, and finance."
The latest American actions took aim at more Russian banks and a large defense firm, but they also went further than past moves by blocking future technology sales to Russia's lucrative oil industry in an effort to inhibit its ability to develop future resources. [The New York Times]
Obama's move came shortly after the European Union imposed its own sanctions on Russia, which is suspected of arming the rebels with the sophisticated surface-to-air missile that brought down the airliner. The EU, which has deep economic ties with Russia, had long balked at antagonizing the government of President Vladimir Putin over the crisis in Ukraine, but was compelled to ramp up the pressure after the deaths of dozens of European citizens and the fact that Russia increased its support to Ukraine's rebels in the wake of the attack.
Indeed, the EU's sanctions went beyond what the U.S. had already imposed, forcing the White House to play a bit of catch-up.