TODAY   |  March 21, 2014

Russia retaliates for sanctions

President Obama ratcheted up the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, targeting his money men. Putin fired back by banning some U.S. lawmakers and top White House aides. NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> more fallout from russia 's annexing crimean peninsula . the u.s. is expanding the sanctions and russia is answering with some of its own. andrea mitchell with more. good morning.

>> the u.s. hopes to stop russia from going beyond crimea with these new sanctions. vladimir putin says he won't advance farther into ukraine, his actions speak otherwise. pro-russian masked men with guns stormed this ship in crimea's largest port. shots were fired, but no one was hurt. not quiet either on the western front . the russian army continues live fire exercises just over ukraine's eastern border. defended with sandbags and ditches, no match for putin's might. president obama upped the ante with more sanctions. this time against vladimir putin 's closest friends, the oligarchs.

>> russia must know further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community .

>> reporter: banning nine americans from international travel . including john mccain who tweeted, i guess this means my spring break in siberia is off. gas pump stock is lost. and putin knows the u.s. is not prepared to use force to back him down.

>> it's in the greatest interests of the united states and europe and russia , as well, to find a way to step down this ladder.

>> the fear is that one side or the other will miscalculate setting off a confrontation that quickly spins out of control. natalie?

>> andrea mitchell in washington, thank you, andrea.