The United States levied new sanctions Monday on seven Russian government officials, as well as 17 companies with links to Vladimir Putin, as the Obama administration seeks to pressure the Russian leader to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine.
The new penalties were a response to what U.S. officials say is Russia's failure to live up to commitments it agreed to under an international accord aimed at ending the dispute. The White House says Russia's involvement in the recent violence in eastern Ukraine is indisputable and warned that the U.S. and its partners were prepared to impose deeper penalties if Russia's provocations continue.
President Barack Obama announced the sanctions while traveling in the Philippines, the last stop on a weeklong trip to Asia. He said that while his goal was not to target Putin personally, he was seeking 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."
Among the targets of the new sanctions is Igor Sechin, a long time Putin ally who has been described as "Putin's lieutenant." Sechin worked under Putin in the St. Petersburg city hall in the early 90s. When Putin left for Moscow, he took Sechin along with him.
While working in the Kremlin, Sechin rose through the ranks from a deputy director of a foreign property department to presidential aide and deputy prime minister - all under Putin's leadership.