Obama Administration Expands Sanctions On Individuals With Ties To Putin

| by Jared Keever

The United States imposed new economic sanctions Monday on Russian officials and companies with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Associated Press reports the new measures are another attempt by the Obama administration to pressure Putin into de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference in the Philippines, President Barack Obama said the sanctions were not intended to target Putin directly but were meant to “change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he’s engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul.”

The president was in the Philippines ending a weeklong visit to Asia.

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine last month. This is the third round of sanctions since the crisis began, and the president was hesitant to claim that they would do any good in averting Russian aggression.

“We don’t yet know whether it’s going to work,” he said.

White House officials were more frank in their projections.

“We don’t expect there to be an immediate change in Russian policy,” one administration official told the New York Times on condition of anonymity. “What we need to do is to steadily show the Russians that there [is] going to be much more severe economic pain.”

The new sanctions target 17 companies and 15 individuals with close ties to the Russian government. Of the targeted companies 11 are owned by three individuals, Gennady Timchenko, and brothers Boris and Arkady Rotenberg. All three were targets in the first round of U.S. sanctions that seemed to have little effect on Putin’s decision making. None of the companies are publicly traded.

That caused many to speculate that the gradual ratcheting up of sanctions will continue to be ineffective.

“I expected more from these U.S. sanctions,” Cliff Kupchan, a Russia analyst at the Eurasia Group, told the New York Times. “To have a shot at changing Putin’s calculus, we’ve got to get serious on economic measures — at least hit a large Russian bank. We missed the target today.”

The Russian Micex index — one of the country’s benchmark stock indexes — closed with a 1.5 percent gain, signaling that most Russian businesses thought this round of sanctions was going to be much worse.

Sources: Las Vegas Review-Journal (AP Story), New York Times