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by Stephen Lendman
Call it tit for tat. On March 20, Russia responded to Obama's sanctioning Russian and Crimean officials as well as Ukraine's democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych. More on this below.
At the same time, Obama added insult to injury. His Thursday Executive Order "Block(s) Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine."
Doing so escalates tensions further. He blacklisted 20 Russian officials and businessmen.
Economic sanctions may follow, he warned. Potentially targeted sectors include energy, mining, defense and engineering.
He represents the worst of rogue governance. He threatens world peace. It hangs in the balance on his watch.
Impeaching him is a national imperative. Humanity depends on it. Recklessness defines his agenda.
One crisis follows others. He's in unchartered waters. Confronting Russia risks the unthinkable. He's proceeding mindlessly. He issued a statement, saying:
"We're imposing sanctions on more senior officials of the Russian government."
"In addition, we are today sanctioning a number of other 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."
Targeted individuals include:
• First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Aleksey Gromov;
• Presidential Executive Office Chief of Staff Sergey Ivanov;
• State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin;
• Federation Council Security and Defense Committee First Deputy Chairman Viktor Ozerov;
• Federation Council International Affairs Committee First Deputy Chairman Vladimir Dzhaborov;
• Federation Council member Nikolai Ryzhkov;
• State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak;
• State Duma member Sergei Mironov;
• Federation Council member Aleksandr Totoonov;
• Committee on Parliamentary Issues First Deputy Chairman Oleg Pangeleev;
• Government Duma of the Federal Gathering Chairman Sergey Naryshkin;
• Federal Drug Control Service Director Victor Ivanov;
• Military Intelligence Service head Igor Sergun;
• Putin aide Andrei Fursenko;
• Head of Administration Vladimir Kozhin;
• SMP Bank/SMP Group heads Arkady and Boris Rotenberg;
• Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin;
• Volga Group head Gennady Timchenko; and
• Bank Rossiya (the Russian name for Russia) and its head Yury Kovalchuk; he's Putin's personal banker; he handles financial transactions for other Russian officials.
Putin press secretary Dmitry Peskov responded angrily, saying:
"We are puzzled to see any names on the list, but even if there were none, lists like (Obama's) are totally unacceptable to us. In any case, it won't take Russia long to react."
Sergei Lavrov told John Kerry that reunification "is not subject to review." It's a fait accompli. Crimea's referendum complied fully with international law.
On Thursday, a joint Russian Public Chamber/Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights/public chambers in Russian constituent entities said:
"The referendum was held with international democratic principles of demonstrating people’s initiative observed."
"Participation of people in the referendum was voluntary and free."
"No one exerted pressure on people to make them participate or prevent from participating in the referendum."
"Cases of obstructing free expression of will by people were not reported."
Presidential Council of Human Rights and Public Chamber noted:
"People participated in the referendum on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage, each participant in the referendum had the right for one vote."
Voting was open, free and fair. It reflected model democracy. It mocked America's fraudulent process. Monied interests control things. People have no say.
On March 20, Russia's lower house State Duma ratified reunification overwhelmingly. It voted 443 - 1. On March 21, upper house Federation Council is expected to follow suit.
Crimea is official Russian territory. Crimeans are coming home. They waited years to do so. Their moment arrived.
Russia issued its own sanctions. A Foreign Ministry statement said:
"In response to sanctions announced by US administration on March 17 against several Russian officials and deputies of the Federal Assembly as punitive measures for backing the Crimean referendum, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs states about imposing reciprocal sanctions against the same number of American officials and lawmakers.
"We have repeatedly warned that applying sanctions is a double-edged issue and would hit as a boomerang the USA itself."
"It is unacceptable and counterproductive to speak with our country in this way, as Washington could find out many times."
"However, the American side, as it seems, continues pinning faith on efficiency of such methods taken from the arsenal of the past, and does not want to admit the obvious:"
"Crimeans have democratically and in full compliance with international law and the UN Charter voted for the reunification with Russia, which respects and accepts this choice."
"Such a decision can be pleasant or not, but this refers to reality that should be faced."
"There cannot be any doubts: on every hostile step we will respond in an adequate way."
Moscow's initial list targeted:
• Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Caroline Atkinson;
• Assistant to the President/Senior Advisor for Strategy and Communications Daniel Pfeiffer;
• Deputy National Presidential Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Benjamin Rhodes;
• House Speaker John Boehner (R. OH);
• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV);
• Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D. NJ);
• Senator Mary Landrieu (D. LA)
• Senator John McCain (R. AZ); and
• Senator Daniel Coats (R. IN)
Washington imposed visa bans and asset freezes. Moscow banned US officials from entering Russia or conducting business therein.
In response, S & P downgraded Russian debt from stable to negative. It cited "rising geopolitical and economic risks."
It did so in lockstep with US lawless imperial policy. It left America's debt rating unchanged.
EU leaders are considering about 20 new Russians to sanction. They march mindlessly in lockstep with rogue US policy.
Angela Merkel said EU countries are ready to impose so-called state-three economic sanctions in response to increased tensions.
Washington-led Western nations bear full responsibility. They operate recklessly. They do it mindlessly.
They're treading on thin ice. Perhaps a Rubicon crossing decision approaches. What follows ahead bears close watching.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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