WASHINGTON — The United States and its European allies hit more than two dozen Russian government officials, executives and companies with sanctions Monday as punishment for their country’s actions in Ukraine, yet the penalties stopped short of targeting Russia’s economy more broadly. In Moscow, there was relief that the sanctions were not as far-ranging as feared.
The measures, including asset freezes and visa bans, affect people close to the Kremlin and are designed to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis. However, the Russian leader himself was not among those targeted, and Obama administration officials acknowledged there was no expectation that Putin would quickly change course.
Still, officials in Washington and Brussels said the sanctions, coupled with those imposed following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula last month, would significantly boost the cost to Moscow of ignoring an agreement it signed earlier this month to take concrete steps to ease tensions in Ukraine.
“The goal here is not to go after Mr. Putin personally,” President Barack Obama told reporters in the Philippines, where he was wrapping up a four-nation trip to Asia. “The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he’s engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul.”
Obama said Russia still could resolve the Ukraine crisis through a diplomatic path. But he sounded far from confident about the immediate prospects for the new sanctions packages being enough to change Putin’s approach.
“We don’t yet know whether it’s going to work,” he said.
In Ukraine, meanwhile, the mayor of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, was shot and badly wounded on Monday, and hundreds of men attacked a pro-Ukraine rally in the eastern city of Donetsk, wounding dozens.