U.S. Says Trade Measures Against Russia Among Options to Respond to Ukraine Crisis

The United States is reportedly considering trade-related measures against Russia as part of its response to that country’s military intervention in Ukraine. Russia said its move was designed to protect Russian citizens in Crimea amid widespread, occasionally violent protests across Ukraine that were sparked by a decision by the former Ukrainian president to reject a trade agreement with the European Union.

According to press reports, unnamed Obama administration officials said the crisis “will have an enormous cost for the Russian economy” and that the U.S. is “looking at a broad menu of options to curtail our trade and economic relationship” with Russia. Some lawmakers are urging the president to suspend talks on a bilateral investment treaty, which was the topic of discussions between U.S. and Russian officials in Washington just last week. There are also calls for efforts to remove Russia from the G-8 and the World Trade Organization, which Moscow joined in 2012 after nearly two decades of negotiation, but there is virtually no chance such an attempt would be successful. More likely is a boycott by the U.S. and other G-8 members of a summit slated to be held in June in Russia, preparations for which have now been suspended. Economic sanctions have also been mentioned as a possibility, although so far the White House has reportedly only indicated a willingness to consider targeted sanctions against Russian energy companies, banks and government leaders. Though there appears to have been no mention of any more severe measures at this point, Secretary of State John Kerry said that “American businesses may well want to start thinking twice about whether they want to do business with a country that behaves like this.”