Russia Mocks Obama's Crimea Sanctions as Meaningless

Image: Russia Mocks Obama's Crimea Sanctions as Meaningless

Tuesday, 18 Mar 2014 06:57 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The "calibrated" sanctions targeting Russian officials announced by President Barack Obama on Monday, in reprisal for Crimea's referendum breaking away from the Ukraine, were ridiculed by the Kremlin, The New York Times reported.

"This is a big honor for me," said Vladislav Surkov, President Vladimir Putin's leading ideologist, adding that he had no assets abroad. "In the U.S., I'm interested in Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock. I don't need a visa to access their work."

ABC News described Deputy Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the Russian military, as laughing off Obama's sanctions. Rogozin's Twitter account needled "Comrade @BarackObama" asking whether "some prankster" had compiled the list of 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials.

Hours after the White House announcement, Putin formally recognized Crimea as an independent state, a move analysts saw as a possible precursor to annexation, according to ABC News.

In addition to freezing financial assets under U.S. jurisdiction, the sanctions would make it hard for anyone on the list to benefit from the international banking system and block their travel to the United States.

The European Union, concurrently, listed 21 people, mostly lower level officials on its separate sanctions roster, the Times reported. Unconcerned Russians officials said that the EU sanctions would need to be confirmed by each of its 28 member states.

The Moscow stock market took the sanction declarations in stride, rising 3.7 percent, The Wall Street Journal reported. Billions of dollars were shifted out of accounts with U.S. jurisdiction the week prior to Monday's sanctions announcement, the Times reported.

In addition to Surkov and Rogozin, the list includes senior Russian lawmakers Elena Mizulina, Leonid Slutsky, Andrei Klishas, and Valentina Matviyenko; Crimean officials Sergey Aksyonov, the region's prime minister, and Vladimir Konstantinov, the new parliament speaker. The list is rounded out by Ukrainian officials associated with the fallen pro-Russian regime, Viktor Medvedchuk and ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The list did not include Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu, Putin's chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, or secret police chief Alexander Bortnikov.

Also absent were Alexei Miller, Gazprom's chief; Igor Sechin, who runs the Rosneft oil company; and Gennady Timchenko, another energy magnate, the Journal reported.

The Kremlin plans to issue a list of Americans it is putting on a retaliatory sanctions list, according to The Daily Beast. Among those singled out will likely be Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain.

Meanwhile, Russian journalist and Putin critic Alexander Golts blamed the West in a commentary published by The Moscow Times for encouraging Russian aggression by having pursued an earlier policy of engagement with Putin.

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