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Obama orders sanctions over Russian moves in Ukraine

Obama orders sanctions over Russian moves in Ukraine
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US President Barack Obama has authorised sanctions on Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

Hours after signing the order, which includes travel bans and the freezing of US assets, Obama said Moscow’s actions were a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders,” he said.

Obama’s order was announced as US Secretary of State John Kerry met Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Rome.

The White House said its actions were designed to allow talks to go forward as a list of people targeted by the sanctions has not yet been drawn up, but Russia’s President is not going to be one of them, according to US officials.

The Kremlin said there is no damage to its relationship with the United States after Vladimir Putin’s hour-long phone call with Obama, their second in the past six days; but there is no sign either of a swift end to the crisis.

Putin now appears to have the upper hand following the Crimean parliament vote to join Russia. Its Moscow-backed government set a referendum on the decision for March 16th.