Administration expects European sanctions on Russia in days

Germany and other European countries will soon issue strong sanctions against sectors of the Russian economy, according to the White House.

Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he expected “stronger sanctions” against multiple sectors “in the coming days.”

“The president has spoken to those leaders and they indicated in their meetings last week at the European Council that sanctions against the energy sector, the arms sector and the financial sector are on the table for European sanctions,” he said. “We are going to continue to develop that packet with the Europeans.”

Counties in Europe have long been reluctant to beef up their sanctions and focus on entire section’s of the Russian economy, due to their reliance on the country’s energy resources.

Leaders there have been under pressure from the Obama administration to change course and impose harsher penalties on Moscow for intervening in Ukraine, especially in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Officials in Washington have said that at least part of the blame for that incident, which killed all 298 people onboard, lies with Russia, which has given arms and training to pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine.

Rhodes on Sunday said that the Kremlin was responsible.

“They train these separatists. They arm these separatists. Clearly we believe they’re responsible for the shoot-down of a plane that came from Russian-backed separatists areas with surface-to-air missiles that are very similar to the ones that are being provided by the Russians,” he said.