Following the lead of the European Union, President Obama announced expanded sanctions against Russia Tuesday for supporting separatists in Ukraine.
The latest American sanctions target Russia’s financial, energy and military sectors.
The Treasury Department released a list of large Russian banks that are blocked from transactions with Americans, including the Bank of Moscow, the Russian Agricultural Bank and VTB Bank.
Most of the sanctions imposed in the past have been aimed at individuals.
The new measures, which are similar to those announced earlier today in Europe, will “have an even bigger bite” on Russia than the lesser sanctions, President Obama said.
European nations such as Germany and Britain previously resisted punishing Russia because they depend on the Russians for energy. .
But the newfound collaboration with the U.S suggests the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine this month may have hardened the allies’ resolve.
U.S. intelligence officials blame the Russians for supplying separatists the missile they say was used to shoot down the plane.
“Russia and its proxies in Ukraine have failed to cooperate with the investigations, continue to interfere with the crash investigation, continue to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft,” Obama said on the South Lawn of the White House.
“Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of genuine progress. And it doesn’t have to come to this. It didn’t have to come to this. It doesn’t have to be this way. This is a choice that Russia and President Putin in particular has made.”
Obama also said Tuesday he is not considering providing arms to Ukraine’s government in its fight against the separatists.
In commentary posted to The Daily Signal last week, Nile Gardiner, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, recommended the U.S. offer assistance to the Ukranian government, exclude Russia from the G20 Summit in Australia and withdraw from New START, the nuclear arms reduction treaty.
Tuesday’s measures fell far short of that, but Gardiner welcomed the broader sanctions and the collaboration with the Europeans.
“The president needs to outline a coherent big-picture strategy for dealing with the mounting Russian threat,” Gardiner said. “But he’s still looking like a deer in the headlights in terms of the crisis in Ukraine and Putin’s aggression. Obama has to go beyond just announcing another wave of sanctions to send a clear message to Moscow. He has to project real strength, because right now, Putin views him as a weak foe.”
This article has been modified.