(Adds comments from Lew, U.S. congressman)
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON, April 29 U.S. Treasury Secretary
Jack Lew said on Tuesday that international sanctions on Russia
over the Ukraine crisis were putting pressure on Russia's
economy, and more actions may be taken if Moscow's stance does
"You have to look over the period of time Russia went into
Crimea, since we've imposed sanctions, there has been a quite
substantial deterioration in Russia's already weak economy. We
see it in their stock exchange, we see it in their exchange
rate, we see it in a number of important economic indicators,"
Lew told a U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee hearing.
Asked whether the United States and European allies will
target Russia's energy or banking sectors with sanctions, Lew
said those actions have been considered and could be taken under
a presidential executive order that provides sanctions
"We need to continue to keep our options open. We are
prepared to take more action and we've made clear that we're
prepared to take more action if the policy of Russia doesn't
change," Lew said.
The United States on Monday announced a new round of
sanctions aimed at business leaders and companies close to
Russian President Vladimir Putin, while the European Union
followed up on Tuesday by naming 15 Russians and Ukrainians to
its blacklist, moving to freeze assets and deny visas.
The moves were dismissed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov, who said they defied common sense and were the work of
weak politicians in the West "attempting to blame others" for
violence in Ukraine.
U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois
who traveled to Ukraine as part of a congressional delegation,
told Lew that sanctions targeting the oil and banking sectors
would have been more effective as a new round of pressure.
Lew responded by saying the latest moves target some of the
most important people in the Russian energy and industrial
"They've gotten the message that we're serious," he added.
"They've gotten the message that we have more actions that we
have and will take."
Lew said further sanctions would be most effective if the
United States and Europe stay unified, and added that Europe's
actions demonstrated strong cooperation.
(Reporting By David Lawder; Editing by Doina Chiacu)