Pro-Russian armed men in military fatigues stand guard outside a regional administration building seized in the night by pro-Russian separatists on Monday. (VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP)
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced Monday that it would be preventing and potentially revoking licenses of high-technology defense items in response to Russia’s activities regarding Ukraine.
The restrictions will apply to items on the United States Munitions List (USML), which regulates the sale of sensitive defense materials overseas.
“Effective immediately, the Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) will deny pending applications for export or re-export of any high technology defense articles or services regulated under the U.S. Munitions List to Russia or occupied Crimea that contribute to Russia’s military capabilities,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement to the press. “In addition, the Department is taking actions to revoke any existing export licenses which meet these conditions.”
The US continues to publicly chastise Russia for its efforts to gain control over regions of Ukraine, previously by moving troops into Crimea, and more recently with activities in the eastern provinces of the country.
On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that US intelligence had confirmed that some of the armed men leading militia groups in eastern Ukraine are Russian intelligence agents, a claim that had picked up steam after pictures of some of the operatives were broadly published in the press last week. Kerry has repeatedly said there would be consequences if Russia tries to destabilize Ukraine, but has been cautious to avoid specifics aside from stating that they would likely include sanctions.
In addition to the export restrictions, 17 companies were added to sanctions lists, including several natural resource extraction companies.
“Russia’s dangerous and inflammatory actions against Ukraine are illegal and illegitimate,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement. “Since Russia has refused to follow through on its Geneva commitments, today the United States is following through on its statements — we are imposing additional costs against Russia.”