(MANILA, Philippines) — Senior administration officials on Monday said the widening group of Russian targets subject to U.S. and European sanctions significantly ratchets up economic pain on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
The measures — newly applied to seven individuals and 17 entities — were described as “robust,” “coordinated,” “scalable” and “having a very significant impact.”
Maybe so, but Putin has shown no sign of reversing course. Even President Obama earlier on Monday acknowledged of the new round of targets, “We don’t yet know whether it’s going to work.”
One of the difficulties remains imposing a united front of economic pain — not just the appearance of one. Even as the Europeans released their list of new targets for sanctions, U.S. officials said it is likely the two lists of targets will differ, accounting for economic sensitivities in some European countries.
“We hit different targets,” a U.S. official said. “They don’t match up exactly.”
Europe also remains reluctant to imposing what officials called “the most serious sanctions we have in reserve” — sector sanctions — penalizing entire sectors of the Russian economy.
“The move to sectoral sanctions would have an Impact on global economy,” an administration official said. All sides are cautious because no single country wants to be left bearing a larger share of the burden, he said.
Obama on Monday said those sector sanctions remain on the table, however. They “could and would” be imposed if Russia drives into eastern Ukraine, officials said.
We are “confident the Europeans are with us to impose those sanctions should the Russians move across the border,” said one administration official.
As for U.S. military aid to Ukraine, one senior official seemed to rule it out: “The fact is there’s not going to be any scenario where the Ukrainian military is brought up to parity with the Russian military…We have a far greater ability to affect Russia and impose a cost on Russia by imposing sanctions than that type of assistance.”
Russia responded to the latest round of sanctions on Monday, pledging to retaliate.
According to Interfax, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned of a “painful” response, saying the Americans’ actions show the White House has “lost touch with reality” in Ukraine.
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