Sanctions imposed against Russia are working as a deterrent, President Barack Obama and other White House senior administration officials said Wednesday in a detailed defense and explanation of the U.S. response to the escalating crisis in Ukraine.
And new sanctions could be imposed as early as Friday, with key Putin allies, institutions and top oligarchs among the targets, other senior administration officials said.
Obama told CBS News Wednesday that the current sanctions are hurting Russia’s economy and will have negative long-term consequences.
“What I’ve said consistently is that each time Russia takes these kinds of steps that are designed to destabilize Ukraine and violate their sovereignty, that there are going to be consequences,” he said. “And what you’ve already seen is the Russian economy weaker, capital fleeing out of Russia. Mr. Putin’s decisions are not just bad for Ukraine, over the long term, they’re going to be bad for Russia.”
Senior administration officials are in Brussels coordinating the rollout of the new sanctions with European allies. All parties are waiting for the results of talks set for Thursday involving Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union. Secretary of State John Kerry is representing the United States in those talks in Geneva. Expectations for a breakthrough at the talks are low.
White House officials now say that sectoral sanctions – those that cut off a portion of the Russian economy – will not be enacted unless Russia attempts a full-on invasion of Ukraine. Last month, Obama signed an executive order giving the United States the power to impose such sanctions.