WH: Sanctions are hurting Putin

Global sanctions are having a harsh effect on Russian President Vladimir Putin and are likely to force him to change his tact in Ukraine, according to White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken.

On CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Blinken said the sanctions were forcing Putin to make “a very hard choice.”

“He had a compact with his people, and the compact is this: I’ll deliver economic growth if you’ll remain politically compliant,” he said. “Right now, he’s not delivering growth, and the pressure we’re putting on him, in coordination with other countries in the world, is forcing that choice on him.”

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Blinken noted that Russian financial markets are down 22 percent since the beginning of the year, in large part because of the success of sanctions from the U.S. and other nations.

“The economic isolation of Russia is growing every single day,” he said.

“Over time, this has a significant impact because he can’t deliver what he promised to his people.”

Leaders of the Group of 7 nations hope to further that isolation with new sanctions that could come as soon as Monday. Those efforts will target “cronies” in the government and people close to Putin, Obama administration officials have said.

“There are lots of things that are going on around him, people around him who matter to that who are going to be affected by these sanctions,” Blinken said.

Later on the show, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) agreed that Putin’s allies were being hit by the sanctions.

“They’re specific individuals who are in the elite class of Russia that have great influence on Mr. Putin, they’re paying a price,” said Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), another member of the committee, said that the U.S. needed to go further.

“Sanctions need to be consequential,” he said. “What we hear are sanctions against individuals. I think we need to go much further than that: sanctions against Russia in terms of military activity, arms, in terms of finance, in terms of energy.”

During a press conference in Malaysia, President Obama rejected the idea of the U.S. acting alone with stronger sanctions targeting sectors of the nation's economy.

“The notion that for us to go forward with sectoral sanctions on our own without the Europeans would be the most effective deterrent to Mr. Putin, I think, is factually wrong,” he said. “We’re going to be in a stronger position to deter Mr. Putin when he sees that the world is unified, and the United States and Europe is unified, rather than this is just a U.S.-Russian conflict.