White House

Russia’s sanctions a “cruel irony,” White House says

Russia’s new sanctions against U.S. agricultural imports are likely to have an “insignificant effect” on the U.S. economy, but could limit Russian people’s access to food, Obama administration officials said Thursday.

“What the Russians have done here is essentially to impose sanctions on their own people," said David Cohen, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Calling it a “cruel irony,” Cohen said the ban is a move "that the U.S. and our allies would never do."

Though the U.S. has slapped 7 rounds of sanctions on Russia for its intervention in Ukraine, targeting 57 individuals and 32 entities, Cohen said it’s been longstanding U.S. policy not to impose sanctions on food, medicine or medical devices.

Forty percent of Russian food is imported from other countries and Cohen called the banning of some food imports "clearly politically motivated," adding that "unlike the sanctions that we and are allies have imposed, the steps that Russia has taken are not based in defending the core principal of international law."