Obama aide: Sanctions weakening Russia

White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken argued Sunday the United States’ sanctions are effectively hurting Russia’s economy even though they haven’t deterred Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“What we’re seeing every single day is seeing Russia getting more and more isolated and its economy taking a bigger and bigger hit,” Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

Russia’s stock market has taken a hit, the ruble has approached an all-time low, and people are second-guessing investing in Russia, he added.

President Obama announced additional sanctions last week that target individuals in Putin’s inner circle and Bank Rossiya, which is tied to Putin. 

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“This is having an impact on Russia. This has to get Putin to think twice,” Blinken said.

On Saturday, however, Russia overtook another Ukrainian military base  in Crimea. Russian troops have also remained along its border with Ukraine. 

“It’s deeply concerning to see the Russian troop buildup along the border,” Blinken said. “It’s likely they’re doing it to intimidate the Ukrainians. It’s possible they’re preparing to move in.”

During his trip to Europe this week, Blinken said Obama will meet with other leaders of the G-7 — Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan — in an effort to further strengthen the West’s response to Putin and support Ukraine. 

Asked if the U.S. is considering providing military aid to Ukraine, Blinken reiterated that the Obama administration is reviewing every request.

For now, he said the White House wants Congress to pass the $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine. The Senate is slated to vote on its package when it returns on Monday.