The US implemented visa restrictions on Russians and Crimeans who are a threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty and are still working on economic sanctions.
The anticipated financial sanctions will penalize “those who are most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea, and does not preclude further steps should the situation deteriorate,” the White House said in a statement.
“At the same time, as the president has said, we seek to work with all parties to achieve a diplomatic solution that de-escalates the situation and restores Ukraine’s sovereignty,” the statement said. “We call on Russia to take the opportunity before it to resolve this crisis through direct and immediate dialogue with the Government of Ukraine.”
Early Thursday morning, Crimea’s parliament formally asked to join the Russian Federation. If President Vladimir Putin accepts the proposal, Crimea will hold a referendum on March 16. After Ukraine’s parliament deposed president Viktor Yanukovych, Crimea took steps to break away from Ukraine. Over 58% of the residents are ethnic Russians.
Russia stepped in to support Crimea while facing severe criticism from the West and NATO. Putin said he has a right to protect the ethnic Russians and Russian interests in the peninsula.