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Crimea sanctions raise a chuckle in the Kremlin


Ukraine

Crimea sanctions raise a chuckle in the Kremlin

Disapproval of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region is unlikely to have significant effect on President Putin, many analysts agree.

An executive order by US President Obama targets 11 people with sanctions. The EU’s expression of reprimand is aimed at 21 Russian and Ukrainian politicians, parliament members and military commanders, including former president Viktor Yanukovych.

“We are imposing sanctions on specific individuals responsible for undermining the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the government of Ukraine. We’re making it clear that there are consequences for their actions.”

Will this inflict economic damage on a national level? Not really, experts say, because there aren’t any punchy
trade or financial measures.

The Executive Director of the Washington-based Center for the National Interest, Paul J. Saunders, said: “Frankly, I think it’s going to have little impact. It’s mainly a symbolic gesture. With the sanctions, frankly, I think these kinds of individual target sanctions, relatively little can be done. If the administration wants to impose very broad-based economic sanctions, they certainly could do that, then we have to recognise that there would be a very high risk of retaliatory sanctions by Russia against American companies and maybe Americans living in Russia.”

Responses in Moscow have been full of scorn.

Influential blogger Rustem Adagamov tweeted the sanctions are ‘a joke’. Deputy Prime Minister in charge of defence Dmitry Rogozin, who is on the list, said some sort of prankster wrote Obama’s decree.

For now the measures include assets freezes and travel bans. EU leaders have left open the possibility of harsher moves when they meet later this week. But the US and Europe might risk their own fragile economic recovery if they imposed penalties with more bite. EU nations are heavily dependent on Russian gas, especially Germany, which is committed to phasing out nuclear energy.

Now here’s the punchline, as amused figures in the Kremlin might say: the West has not targeted Putin directly, nor do the sanctions include the oligarchs, many of whom keep great fortunes in Western financial capitals.

For the moment, Putin seems to be applying the art of the possible.

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