President Obama Declares National Emergency, Enacts Sanctions on Any Who Wish to Undermine Ukrainian Sovereignty

Yesterday, MarchU.S. Presidential Seal 6, 2014, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order to enact sanctions against the property of anyone who have “asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of Ukraine” or who wish to “undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine, threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.” In doing so, President Obama hopes to thwart Russia’s ability to maneuver freely in the Crimean region. His reference to the “unauthorized assertion of governmental authority” is a direct nod to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in the region, while the Executive Order pertains only to United States citizens, permanent resident aliens, people actually in the United States, or businesses governed by U.S. laws.

The provisions of the Executive Order also delineates the prohibition of “immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States” for any individuals who directly support (by providing finances or other significant means) the actions against Ukrainian democratic processes. Under the provisions of the Order, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to freeze financial assets of those individuals or entities who meet the criteria of the sanctions. In a separate interview, senior administration officials provided background information pertaining to the criteria for sanctioning individuals under the provisions of the Executive Order.

In further explanation of the Executive Order, President Obama issued a statement to the press yesterday afternoon. In the statement, he reiterated his intentions to coordinate with European Allies to impose sanctions on Russia, for the benefit of state sovereignty in Ukraine. He emphasized the U.S.’s role as a de-escalator and mediator between Ukraine and Russia, and he called on Congress to provide financial support to Ukraine’s government, in an effort to “stabilize its economy, make needed reforms, [and] deliver for their people.”

In the days that follow these economic sanctions on Russia’s investors, it will be interesting to see if they achive the desired result, or if they are more akin to throwing sticks at a bear freshly awakened from hibernation, hungry for its first meal.

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