Update: President Obama announced a new round of sanctions against Russian officials and other influential Russian individuals in a brief statement on the White House South Lawn on Thursday. The President also condemned what he called an "illegal referendum" in Crimea, and Russia's "illegitimate" move to annex the peninsula. "These are all choices that the Russian government has made," the president said, adding that those choices have been rejected by the international community.
Then, Obama moved to new "additional costs" Russia would face for those actions, including more sanctions on Russian officials, along with "individuals with substantial resources and influence who provide material support to the Russian leadership, as well as a bank that provides material support to these individuals." The list of those facing new sanctions is here. The president also announced that he had signed a new Executive Order giving him the authority, if needed, to impose even more sanctions on "key sectors" of the Russian economy in the future. "this is not our preferred outcome," the president added. He closed with this:
The Russian people need to know, and Mr. Putin needs to understand, the Ukrainians shouldn't have to choose between the west and Russia. We want the Ukrainian people to determine their destiny and have good relations with the United States, Russia, Europe, anyone they choose. That can only happen if Russia also recognizes the rights of all the Ukrainian people to determine their future as free individuals and as a sovereign nation. Rights that people in nations around the world understand and support.
Soon after Obama's announcement, Russia responded:
BREAKING: Russia imposes entry ban on American lawmakers, officials in retaliation for US sanctions.— The Associated Press (@AP) March 20, 2014
Original post: President Obama will deliver a statement on Ukraine at 11 a.m. on Thursday on the South Lawn of the White House. You can watch live here:
There aren't a ton of details available on what the president will say. Last night, President Obama said in an interview that he had ruled out the possibility of military intervention in the Ukraine crisis. Instead, he added, the U.S. and its allies would "mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we've got a strong international coalition that sends a clear message." Obama's remarks against military action in Ukraine came after the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
Yesterday, Ukraine ordered its military in the peninsula to withdraw, more or less turning over control of the contested region to Russia. Russian forced overwhelmed the region, which is majority ethnic Russia, following the change of power in Kiev after months of protests.