A Closer Look At U.S. And EU Sanctions In The Ukraine Conflict

David Greene talks to NPR's Michele Kelemen about the new sanctions imposed on Russian officials by the United States and European Union.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, as Eleanor just told Renee, the government in Kiev says the world is with them and not with Russia.

This morning, the White House and European countries announced new sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials over their role in Crimea. Joining in our studio to update us is NPR's Michele Kelemen. Michele, good morning.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Nice to be here.

GREENE: So, the United States and the Europeans, their lists of people sanctioned are different. But start by telling me just in general, what are these sanctions?

KELEMEN: They're targeted sanctions. So, they're visa bans, people won't be able to travel and there are asset freezes. So any assets they might have in the case of the U.S., in the U.S. or in Europe, bank accounts would be frozen. The lists are slightly different, we're told, but they're close and the U.S. and the Europeans have been talking a lot about this together and coordinating this response. And White House officials describe the ones they announced just now as just the start. They say if Russia moves ahead and annexes Crimea formally, it now has a new set of sanctions that it can impose and these will be targeted against Russian officials, Russian arms dealers and what they're calling Kremlin cronies.

GREENE: The lists could grow. And we should say President Obama is speaking about Ukraine, as you and I are in the studio right now. So we might be learning more. But in terms of this initial list, who is on the White House's list to be sanctioned?

KELEMEN: Well, in terms of Russian officials, there are seven of them. Several of them are influential lawmakers in the Duma, the lower house of parliament; and the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament. You'll remember that lawmakers were really out in front on this push to have Crimea vote to join Russia. So, you're seeing names like Yelena Mizulina, Leonid Slutsky of the Duma and the head of the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, who was once governor of St. Petersburg, which is Putin's hometown.

There's also some of Putin's top advisors on this list. Vladislav Surkov, who's known as the Grey Cardinal, who was known for always known for helping Putin consolidate power in country but more recently has been involved in this strategy to support separatist regions in Georgia and also now in Crimea.

There's also on this list Crimea's prime minister and speaker of the local parliament there and the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.

GREENE: Do we expect this to have an impact on Russia, on the Kremlin? Is it going to change Putin's behavior in some way?

KELEMEN: You know, it's really difficult to tell. I mean, U.S. officials think it's going to hit close to home because they targeting people that are very close to Putin. You know, on the other hand, you'll remember that when the U.S. imposed some targeted sanctions against human rights violators in Russia, Russia responded by banning the adoption of Russian children for American families. So, there could be some tit-for-tat response here from Russia. And, you know, up to now, the Russians really haven't moved despite the diplomatic isolation they faced and despite these targeted sanctions.

GREENE: And we should say, just really briefly, I mean, Ukraine's defense minister talking - using very tough language, talking about having Ukraine's military sort of ready now, on guard. There's no talk from the United States or from European countries about any sort of military action response to this. We're talking about just sanctions right now.

KELEMEN: That's what they're talking about, is sanctions and diplomatic isolation, and Vice President Biden is supposed to go to the region, to Poland and to the Baltic States to show U.S. support and to stand up for Russian aggression.

GREENE: All right. We've been speaking to NPR's Michele Kelemen about the situation in Ukraine and new sanctions. Michele, thanks a lot.

KELEMEN: Thank you.

GREENE: You heard her here on MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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