By Carol E. Lee , Gregory L. White and Jared A. Favole, The Wall Street Journal 2014-03-25
The U.S. raised the stakes Thursday in its confrontation with Russia over Crimea, aiming a new round of sanctions closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle even as Moscow struck back with penalties of its own on U.S. lawmakers and White House officials.
The Obama administration’s more aggressive move—targeting a high-profile Russian bank as well as some of Mr. Putin’s wealthiest and most influential supporters—increased the likelihood the retaliation could spiral.
It also marked a notable reversal for a White House that until last month saw Mr. Putin and his government as a vital international partner.
Moscow has vowed an “asymmetrical” response that could encompass global issues important to the U.S., such as the Iran nuclear talks. U.S. officials said earlier that they were prepared for a Russian move to constrict supply routes used by the U.S. that pass near and through Russian territory.