Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said new sanctions against Russia were needed to stabilize the crisis in Ukraine during a Tuesday speech, shortly ahead of the announcement of new sanctions by President Barack Obama.
The European Union also imposed strict economic sanctions on Russia hours before Obama’s announcement, a move experts suggest signals an internationally coordinated effort to get Russia to cease its backing of separatist cells in Ukraine and work toward a diplomatic solution.
“We don’t need sanctions for the sake of sanctions,” Klimkin said, reaffirming that international action must be harsh enough to compel Russia to revoke its backing of Ukrainian separatists.
Klimkin said the crisis in Ukraine is the worst security situation since the Cuban Missile Crisis, arguing that the international community needs to show its solidarity with Ukraine.
The White House has been under pressure to increase sanctions on Russia since Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 was shot down July 17, claiming 298 lives.
Pro-Russian separatists, whom the White House suspects of shooting down the flight, agreed last week to allow for unfettered access to the MH-17 crash site to conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash.
However, separatists continued to limit access to the site, according to the U.S. State Department. Investigators have found evidence that has been tampered with and suspect bodies were dragged from their original location, an act Klimkin said showed complete disregard for human dignity.
“We will know the truth,” Klimkin said about the cause of the crash. “It will be our top priority for now and the nearest future.”
The newly announced U.S. sanctions on Russia will target the energy, arms, and finance sectors, Obama said.
The E.U.’s sanctions will cut off certain financing to state-owned banks in Russia and will cut exports to stall development of its oil resources and military technology.
The president said the new sanctions are in response to Russia’s continued backing of Russian separatists in Ukraine and the failure of Russia’s proxies to participate in diplomatic discussions meant to resolve the issue.
“It didn’t have to come to this,” Obama said. “It does not have to be this way.”