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March 21, 2014

World leaders announce new punishments for Russia


President Barack Obama threatened new possible sanctions Thursday, in an attempt to send a warning sign over Russia’s actions to take the Crimean peninsula away from Ukraine. The sanctions would impose a penalty on any person or company that does business with Russia.

“The world is watching with grave concern as Russia has positioned its military in a way that could lead to further incursions,” he said. “I signed a new executive order today that gives us the authority to impose sanctions, not just on individuals, but on key sectors of the Russian economy. This is not our preferred outcome. However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community.”

The latest sanctions target President Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff and wealthy supporters. In retaliation, the Kremlin in Russia announced sanctions against nine U.S. officials, including Senators John McCain and Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner.

European leaders are considering further punishments. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said plans for a meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) in Russia in June have been suspended indefinitely.

Meanwhile in Crimea, pro-Russian forces stormed and seized three Ukrainian warships in Sevastopol. The crew of one vessel left with their belongings, as a Russian flag flew from the rigging.

In Washington, debate is growing about the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis. Senator McCain and others have argued the U.S. should have stood up more firmly to Russian President Putin.

Warm up questions
  1. What are some ways countries try to influence the actions of other countries?
  2. What was the Cold War of the 1950s-1990s?
  3. Locate Crimea on a map. What can you tell about life in Crimea from its location and geography?
Discussion questions and writing prompts
  1. Who is John Kerry? John Forbes Kerry is an American politician who is the 68th and current United States Secretary of State.
  2. Who is Sergey Lavrov? Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov is a Russian diplomat, who has been the Foreign Minister of Russia since 2004.
  3. What is the purpose of their positions? How might these two men work together during a crisis?
  4. Why have the U.S. and other Western countries imposed sanctions on multiple Russian political leaders? What do you think they hope to accomplish?
  5. How do you think this strategy will impact the overall situation? Explain your answer and support it with evidence from the text or video.
  6. What do you think the next step forward should be for the U.S. and other Western nations such as Germany?
  7. What do you think the next step forward should be for Russia?


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