WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) -- The Obama administration and the United States’ European allies stepped up their pressure on Russia to end its intervention in Ukraine on Monday by imposing the most comprehensive sanctions against Russian officials since the Cold War.
However, Russia showed no signs of reversing its course.
In fact, one of the Russians named actually laughed off the sanctions.
"Comrade Obama, what should those who have neither accounts nor property abroad do? Have you not thought about it?" Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted. "I think the decree of the President of the United States was written by some joker."
I think some prankster prepared the draft of this Act of the US President)— Dmitry Rogozin (@DRogozin) March 17, 2014
Acting in concert with Europe, the Obama administration froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials, including top advisers to President Vladimir Putin, for their support of Crimea's vote to secede from Ukraine, while similar sanctions were imposed on four Ukrainian officials for instigating Sunday's Crimean referendum.
Although the threat of sanctions has failed thus far to persuade Putin to drop support for Crimea's secession and potential entry into the Russian Federation - or to pull back from threatening military moves near Ukraine's south and east - President Barack Obama said failure to step back now would draw move severe consequences.
President Barack Obama pauses while speaksing about Ukraine, Monday, March 17, 2014, in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington. The president imposed sanctions against Russian officials, including advisers to President Vladimir Putin, for their support of Crimea's vote to secede from Ukraine. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
"If Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions," Obama declared at the White House shortly after the penalties were announced.
He noted that Vice President Joe Biden would be traveling to Europe late Monday to reassure Eastern European leaders of America's commitment to them and that he himself would be going next week on a previously planned trip to make a similar point.
Secretary of State John Kerry also is expected in Europe in the coming days.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) blasted the action, saying “Vladimir Putin must be encouraged by the absolute timidity.”
"I don't know how it could have been weaker, besides doing nothing - seven people being sanctioned after naked aggression has taken place," he said on MSNBC Monday.
Those targeted by the U.S. on Monday include:
- Vladislav Surkov, a Putin aide.
- Sergey Glazyev, a Putin adviser.
- Rogozin, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation.
- Leonid Slutsky, a state Duma deputy.
- Andrei Klishas, a member of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
- Valentina Matviyenko, head of the Federation Council.
- Yelena Mizulina, a state Duma deputy.
The four Ukrainians newly targeted by the Treasury Department are:
- Yanukovych, who fled Ukraine for Russia and has supported the dispatch of Russian troops into Ukraine.
- Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of Crimea separatist group Ukrainian Choice and a close friend of Putin.
- Sergey Aksyonov, prime minister of Crimea's regional government.
- Vladimir Konstantinov, speaker of the Crimean parliament.