Video: Obama to press EU to amplify sanctions on Russia

posted at 10:41 am on April 25, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

While Barack Obama has taken flak for the flaccid response from the West in the Ukraine crisis, the US has still managed to outpace the EU in action against Vladimir Putin and Russia. Putin’s trading partners in Europe are loathe to get into an economic war over Ukraine, and have shown it. Obama will pitch a tougher set of sanctions today to the EU, and at least one key leader seems ready to follow through:

President Obama said Friday that he’ll be talking to key European leaders as he travels in South Korea to make sure the Europeans share his assessment thatRussia has not lived up to promises made last week to de-escalate tension in Ukraine.

Mr. Obama said it’s important to lay the groundwork for stronger sanctions, so that “if and when we see even greater escalation, perhaps even a military incursion by Russia into Ukraine, that we’re prepared for the sort of sectoral sanctions that would have even larger consequences.”

The president emphasized that European leaders have been “unequivocal in condemning Russia,” but that coordination on stronger sanctions is not a simple or speedy process.

“They have a whole process that they’ve got to go through to deal with any actions that have significant impact on their own economies,” he said, “and so there’s some variation inside of Europe, that is as much of an issue as it is any differences between our assessments and theirs.”

The timing may finally be right. Germany’s Angela Merkel revealed that she scolded Putin over Russia’s actions in a phone call earlier today, rejecting their claims of cooperation, and warning that Putin has forced the EU to react:

“I spoke to the Russian president this morning and made clear again that on the one hand Ukraine has taken a whole series of steps to implement the Geneva accord but on the other side I see no Russian backing for the accord which would of course have an effect on the separatists in Ukraine,” she said.

“Russia has the power, or could have the power, to bring the separatists on to a peaceful path of discussions about the constitution and preparations for elections, but such signals are unfortunately lacking.”

Merkel added: “We will therefore have to react. This will be a joint European action and an action by the G7…because of the lack of progress we will have to contemplate further sanctions… within the second stage of sanctions.”

Yesterday, Putin acknowledged that sanctions had damaged the Russian economy, but that the damage had been rather limited:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that sanctions were hurting the Russian economy but that the damage was not critical.

“Overall they are causing (damage), because (credit) ratings are being reviewed, loans could become more expensive and so forth. But this is of no critical character,” Putin said of sanctions imposed over Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The bad news for Putin is that Russia’s likely to start drowning in sanctions if they don’t get serious about de-escalating the Ukraine crisis. Obama said at the presser today that Putin’s not stupid and understands the kind of impact that new sanctions will have — but that he’d certainly rescue Putin if he was literally drowning:

That came in response to Putin’s backhanded compliment towards Obama last week, when Putin was asked whether the US President would save him. Putin was “sure” that Obama would do so. Maybe — just maybe — we should test that out in the figurative sense with some real economic consequences for Putin’s imperialism.


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I’m positive that Putin would save Zero too…yeah right…

PatriotRider on April 25, 2014 at 10:47 AM

All hail dear leader…..what strong leadership
-lsm

cmsinaz on April 25, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Obama has the queerest responses.

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 10:49 AM

So, Obama believes economic sanctions work….unless we’re talking about Iran. Then, it’s the opposite.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Putin would save Obama, and then Obama would ask Putin a pre-arranged question on Russian TV.

PBH on April 25, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Putin doesn’t want to totally destroy Obama. It’s like the Harlem Globetrotters needing the Washington Generals; you have to have someone to beat up on.

Tater Salad on April 25, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Germany and Russia escalating a confrontation.

Someone had better beat the living hell out of that reset button before it’s too late.

Bishop on April 25, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Putin’s trading partners in Europe are loathe to get into an economic war over Ukraine, and have shown it.

Great, Europe has more reasonable politicians now than we do. This is utter madness.

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Because the power of the #!

22044 on April 25, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Putin “That all you got Obama”? I think Vlad is having a good time with all this.

major dad on April 25, 2014 at 10:54 AM

None of this means anything. They already have their meathooks in eastern Ukraine.

forest on April 25, 2014 at 10:54 AM

While Barack Obama has taken flak for the flaccid response from the West……..

Well, he is reputed to be have a small stick.

The real question is why the hell he’s in South Korea and chatting on the phone of EU leaders instead of calling the flight deck of Air Force One and telling the pilot to change course to Brussels? Isn’t a response to Russian agression a tad more important than laying a wreath and having a state dinner in Malaysia?

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Look out! The Germans are getting pissed!

GarandFan on April 25, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Will Obama’s sanctions amplifier go to 11?

mwbri on April 25, 2014 at 10:58 AM

So he’s at the “give speeches to someone else” stage?

rogerb on April 25, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Putin doesn’t want to totally destroy Obama. It’s like the Harlem Globetrotters needing the Washington Generals; you have to have someone to beat up on.

Tater Salad on April 25, 2014 at 10:51 AM

I think the Road Runner needing Wile E. Coyote (and the fine products of Acme Corp) is a more apt comparison.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 10:58 AM

This is in the end a conflict between Russia and the EU, because both of them want to accquire the Ukraine. Why do we get into this mess? Where are our interests there? And why are we more militant about pursuing European interests than the Europeans?

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Well, he is reputed to be have a small stick.

The real question is why the hell he’s in South Korea and chatting on the phone of EU leaders instead of calling the flight deck of Air Force One and telling the pilot to change course to Brussels? Isn’t a response to Russian agression a tad more important than laying a wreath and having a state dinner in Malaysia?

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Not according to Joe Biden.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 10:59 AM

If it’s so important to work with the EU on sanctions against Russia to save Ukraine, what is Odumbo doing in South Korea?

Steve Z on April 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM

This is in the end a conflict between Russia and the EU, because both of them want to accquire the Ukraine. Why do we get into this mess? Where are our interests there? And why are we more militant about pursuing European interests than the Europeans?

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 10:59 AM

We convinced Ukraine to give up their nukes after the breakup of the Soviet Union in return for a promise to back them up if Russia started acting up.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Maybe our Dear Leader Blind Sclerotic Squirrel will be able to find a nut in all this. Maybe. And, maybe, the ‘nut’ will be the one laughing all the way to Moldova…

vnvet on April 25, 2014 at 11:02 AM

If it’s so important to work with the EU on sanctions against Russia to save Ukraine, what is Odumbo doing in South Korea?

Steve Z on April 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Hey, a man’s gotta sight-see.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 11:03 AM

what is Odumbo doing in South Korea?

Steve Z on April 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Hiding.

As I posted above, I don’t know why the rat-eared wonder isn’t headed to Brussels. He likes the photo-ops. What would be more dramatic than cutting short his state visits in Asia to consult in person with European leaders over the crisis in Ukraine?

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Hip-Hop Diplomacy
U.S. Cultural Diplomacy Enters a New Era

Obama’s “smart diplomacy” in action in Europe:

For Washington, Europe’s inability to integrate minorities has become a national security risk; officials have argued that European Muslims, alienated from their home countries, may seek to inflict harm on the United States. And they’ve decided that one way to mitigate that risk is by leveraging the popularity of African American culture — and of hip-hop music, in particular.

The diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in December 2010 proved the point. Several of those cables included private castigations of the governments of France, Britain, and Holland for mistreating their Muslim minorities.

What most outraged the French, though, was the U.S. embassy’s efforts to empower “moderate” French Muslim voices. One of the Muslim organizations supported by the embassy was the online magazine Oumma.com, an online Muslim affairs publication, which was described by the U.S. ambassador as a “remarkable website.” French conservatives, who considered the site extremist because of its alleged sympathies for the Muslim Brotherhood, began accusing the U.S. government and French Muslims of conspiring to undermine French traditions of secularism. (The British press expressed similar outrage at revelations by WikiLeaks of the U.S. embassy’s “secret campaign” to reach out to “radical” mosques, including the Finsbury Park mosque in northern London, which was frequented by the so-called 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, and the shoe bomber, Richard Reid.)

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:06 AM

We convinced Ukraine to give up their nukes after the breakup of the Soviet Union in return for a promise to back them up if Russia started acting up.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Yeah, but apparently what’s agreed to in Budapest stays in Budapest.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 11:07 AM

We convinced Ukraine to give up their nukes after the breakup of the Soviet Union in return for a promise to back them up if Russia started acting up.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 11:01 AM

If they willingly swap swords for sheets of paper thats really their problem.

Besides, this agreement was about the preservation of a sovereign Ukraine. No matter which side wins this conflict, Ukraine wont be sovereign anymore.

If Ukrainians themselves dont value their sovereignty or security, I dont see why the US should be invested in them.

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Obama has the queerest responses.

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Weally?

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:09 AM

Is Germany really ready to suffer from the damage their economy will face if they substantively go down this path?

Doubt it. In the end this is lots of nice talk. But the Germans won’t make any material moved. It will be only window dressing.

And notice how the goal posts were moved. This is now about Russian Nationalists in Eastern Ukraine. Oddly, it seems the President and Europeans have written off Russian subjugation of Crimea.

Marcus Traianus on April 25, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Because we have fully utilized our immense domestic natural gas supplies, we can incentivize the Eurotrash to impose sanctions because we can supply them with natural gas after Putin cuts them off!

Oh wait.

Ted the Average on April 25, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Obama has the queerest responses.

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 10:49 AM

When it comes to responding, nobody is madder than Obama.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Ukraine, Russia political crisis
1m
White House: US is prepared to impose targeted sanction to respond to Russia’s latest actions – statement via @Reuters
end of alert
=============

Ukraine, Russia political crisis
19m
Germany unable to contact group of OSCE military observers in eastern Ukraine, German Defense Ministry spokesman says – @Reuters
end of alert
=============

http://www.osce.org/

canopfor on April 25, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Besides, this agreement was about the preservation of a sovereign Ukraine. No matter which side wins this conflict, Ukraine wont be sovereign anymore.

If Ukrainians themselves dont value their sovereignty or security, I dont see why the US should be invested in them.

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Do you really think that Ukraine democratically joining the EU is the equivalent of it’s being forcibly absorbed into Putin’s revived Great Russia?

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Ukraine, Russia political crisis
1m
White House: Obama, Hollande, Merkel, Renzi agree to work together to ‘coordinate additional steps to impose costs on Russia’ – @Reuters

canopfor on April 25, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Do you really think that Ukraine democratically joining the EU is the equivalent of it’s being forcibly absorbed into Putin’s revived Great Russia?

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Joining the EU would result in a loss of sovereignty, regardless of whether its good or bad. Look at Greece; they do what the French and Germans tell them.

Ukraine’s choice is the European Union or the Eurasian Union. Either way, it will be subjugated.

Ted the Average on April 25, 2014 at 11:18 AM

If Ukrainians themselves dont value their sovereignty or security, I dont see why the US should be invested in them.

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 11:08 AM

You’re a Paulbot, aren’t you?

The United States makes virtually no effort to protect its Southern borders. If Americans themselves don’t value their sovereignty or security, why should anybody else?

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 11:19 AM

That came in response to Putin’s backhanded compliment towards Obama last week, when Putin was asked whether the US President would save him. Putin was “sure” that Obama would do so.

Obama would save Putin only because of his own fecklessness and cowardice. Putin will be more than happy to ‘save’ Obama again like he did in Syria. lolz

Resist We Much on April 25, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Do you really think that Ukraine democratically joining the EU is the equivalent of it’s being forcibly absorbed into Putin’s revived Great Russia?

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Well, as far as I see it the government who pursues a course to EU membership had to putsch itself into power – ousting a duly elected government in the process that wasnt fond of the idea – so I dont know about “democratically”. But assuming Ukraine joined the EU by vote, they would still lose their sovereignty.

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Ukraine’s choice is the European Union or the Eurasian Union. Either way, it will be subjugated.

Ted the Average on April 25, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Wow. Where do you people get this stuff? What website?

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Do you really think that Ukraine democratically joining the EU is the equivalent of it’s being forcibly absorbed into Putin’s revived Great Russia?

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Hey, remember the Sudetenland. The West lets Russia take the best bits of Ukraine and nobody gets hurt. Neville Chamberlain gave us peace in our time and so can Obama. And all it is going to cost us is a little bit of territory near Russia. /

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 11:26 AM

You’re a Paulbot, aren’t you?

The United States makes virtually no effort to protect its Southern borders. If Americans themselves don’t value their sovereignty or security, why should anybody else?

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Oh heaven, no. Im not supporting any member of the Paul family politically.

And what you say about our border is tragically accurate, which is why the Republican Party must up its game and oust treacherous scum like Boehner.

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Well, as far as I see it the government who pursues a course to EU membership had to putsch itself into power – ousting a duly elected government in the process that wasnt fond of the idea – so I dont know about “democratically”. But assuming Ukraine joined the EU by vote, they would still lose their sovereignty.

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Actually the duly elected government was fond of the idea – Putin and Yanukovych weren’t. That was the reason that the duly elected government “putsched itself into power”.

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Putin will be more than happy to ‘save’ Obama again like he did in Syria. lolz

Resist We Much on April 25, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Putin treats Obama much like Chelsea Manning’s roommate treats the little traitor.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM

I can hear Putin laughing from my house (to coin a phrase falsely attibuted to Sarah Palin), and I don’t live in Alaska.

DimsdalePiranha on April 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM

“attibuted” = attributed

DimsdalePiranha on April 25, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Oh, that’s just ancient history. We don’t teach that anymore. Too busy with Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Hispanic history Month, People’s Struggle History Month, etc.

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Angie Merkel scolded Vlad?

Barry is going to get the Euros to beef up sanctions?

I haven’t seen such toughness since the League of Nations to Japan to task for invading Manchuria.

formwiz on April 25, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Actually the duly elected government was fond of the idea – Putin and Yanukovych weren’t. That was the reason that the duly elected government “putsched itself into power”.

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM

And Yanukovych just happened to be there, happened to be the first to show up when they needed somebody to assume the presidency?

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 11:36 AM

And Yanukovych just happened to be there, happened to be the first to show up when they needed somebody to assume the presidency?

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 11:36 AM

No he was the legitimate president. But he over stepped his authority when he accepted bribes from Moscow and refused to take the necessary steps to complete the Association Agreement that Ukraine and the EU had agreed on.

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Obama has the queerest responses.

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 10:49 AM

…well!…I wonder why?

KOOLAID2 on April 25, 2014 at 11:55 AM

No he was the legitimate president. But he over stepped his authority when he accepted bribes from Moscow and refused to take the necessary steps to complete the Association Agreement that Ukraine and the EU had agreed on.

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 11:48 AM

If corruption was a disqualifying criteria there would be no political class in the Ukraine left, no matter which side they take on this issue. Tymoshenko for example didnt became an oligarch because of her pretty looks.

It doesnt matter anyway, the West and Russia agreed to uphold the sovereignty of Ukraine and there wont be a sovereign Ukraine no matter who is winning this. Thats why there is no need for becoming involved, let alone hysterical over this. Its time to end the do-goodery foreign policy and to focus on our actual interests.

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Its time to end the do-goodery foreign policy and to focus on our actual interests.

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 11:57 AM

I would have to disagree with you. A free Europe is a core interest for us. So is the right of sovereign nations to defend their territorial integrity against aggression from expansionist powers. So is the principle that people have a god given right to rebel against a tyrant and traitor like the Uke’s did in removing Yanukovych from power.

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Hey Putin, watch out. He really, really, really means it this time.

rjoco1 on April 25, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Hey Putin, watch out. He really, really, really means it this time.

rjoco1 on April 25, 2014 at 12:29 PM

And to prove it, the next letter is going to be typed in Times New Roman with all those really sharp looking serifs.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 12:36 PM

A free Europe is a core interest for us. So is the right of sovereign nations to defend their territorial integrity against aggression from expansionist powers.

Oh, ok. Then we should disband the EU.

vlad martel on April 25, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Strongly worded memo to follow.

Ricard on April 25, 2014 at 1:29 PM

I hope the EU knows that they’re probably on their own for this war, unless they can get Syria and Libya to send over some of the advanced weaponry we’ve given them.

The bad news for Putin is that Russia’s likely to start drowning in sanctions if they don’t get serious about de-escalating the Ukraine crisis

Yeah, probably not.

Lance Corvette on April 25, 2014 at 2:08 PM

….JugEars is spiraling our debt out of control…and he is going to punish Putin with financial sanctions?….how does that work?

KOOLAID2 on April 25, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Just a reminder: the entire mass media narrative on Ukraine is a pack of lies. The Maidan massacre narrative fell apart on German TV: shots came from the rioters’ own headquarters. The story about Russian aggression is bogus: America and the EU attacked when the Ukrainians took a more generous trade deal from Putin over a worse one from the EU; till then, Putin was doing nothing aggressive. The story about this being for “freedom” or “democracy” is all lies: the rioters were paid daily wages out of Victoria Nuland’s five billion dollars destabilization fund, and she was sprung on YouTube picking out members of her puppet government after the democratically elected government was overthrown in a violent, foreign-sponsored coup.

The whole official story is a false narrative founded on big lies.

David Blue on April 26, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Oh, ok. Then we should disband the EU.

vlad martel on April 25, 2014 at 1:05 PM

That would be a good idea anyway.

EU open borders policies mean any country in it will eventually be part of an extended Caliphate.

David Blue on April 26, 2014 at 8:21 AM

Its time to end the do-goodery foreign policy and to focus on our actual interests.

Red Widow on April 25, 2014 at 11:57 AM

You mean – defend America’s borders rather than focusing on Ukraine’s?

But that would mean disagreeing with Mexico! According to neocon thinking, disagreeing with Mexico is inconceivable; it’s only starting Cold War II with Russia over America’s right to dominate Ukraine that’s safe and cost-free.

David Blue on April 26, 2014 at 8:26 AM