WASHINGTON (QHA) -

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to halt Russia's eligibility for trade benefits under a program that assists developing countries, Radio Free Europe informs.

The move comes as Washington seeks to punish Russia over its annexation of Crimea and for its role in destabilizing eastern and southern Ukraine.

Obama notified the U.S. Congress on May 7 that he intends to withdraw Russia's access to the Generalized System of Preferences program, which exempts eligible countries from tariffs on certain goods.

Russia was the program's ninth-largest beneficiary last year, with $296 million in tariff discounts on goods it sends to the United States.

The White House cited Russia's "sufficiently advanced" economy as the basis for the decision.

The announcement did not specifically mention the Ukraine crisis.

But it follows U.S. sanctions against Russian officials and businesses close to Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

QHA