U.S. and Europe to Slap More Sanctions on Russia, But Putin's Playing it Cool
In punishment for the Kremlin's failure to defuse the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the U.S. and Europe will impose yet more sanctions on Russia, the G7 said Saturday. Although some sanctions have been in place for the last six weeks, the West is getting frustrated — now, it's promised to do what it can to make sure it isn't easy for Russia to continue on its potentially destructive course. Still, it's not clear that the new sanctions will mean anything more than placing restrictions on more Russian officials. On Saturday, leaders of the G7 — that is, the U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Gernamy, Italy and Japan — announced moves to add new sanctions against Russia, in response to the country's failure to control the armed groups in Ukraine, as promised. A statement released by the White House late Friday praised Ukraine for taking positive steps, but very pointedly criticized Moscow.
"Russia has taken no concrete actions in support of the Geneva accord ... It has continued to escalate tensions by increasingly concerning rhetoric and ongoing threatening military maneuvers on Ukraine's border," the statement reads. "Given the urgency of securing the opportunity for a successful and peaceful democratic vote next month in Ukraine's presidential elections, we have committed to act urgently to intensify targeted sanctions and measures to increase the costs of Russia's actions."
It's not clear yet just what these new sanctions will entail, but sectoral sanctions — that is, measures that would target specific Russian industries, like the banking sector — are seeming unlikely. Rather, it's President Vladimir Putin's wider entourage that will probably feel the effects of visa and asset bans, although this could also lead to some wider repercussions across the Russian economy.
"We believe that these sanctions will have a significant impact," said Ben Rhodes, America's deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, the Telegraph reports. "When you start to get at the cronies, the individuals who control a large part of the Russian economy, you are imposing a larger economic impact than sanctioning an individual."
Somewhat dishearteningly, Obama's not convinced that the new measures will actually make much difference when it comes to Putin's policies — though at this point, they also can't make the already-frosty U.S.-Russian relations any worse. As it stands, Putin is reportedly giving the U.S. President the cold shoulder, and hasn't been on a phone call with Obama since April 14th.