From an editorial Friday in the Washington Post:
The sanctions against Russia that President Obama announced Thursday were far tougher than those previously taken in response to the invasion and annexation of Crimea. But they remained carefully calibrated: Mr. Obama aimed to inflict economic pain on Vladimir Putin and his inner circle of financiers and cronies, not on the Russian economy as a whole. Mr. Putin was not named, but his personal banker and bank were locked out of the U.S. financial system, as were key aides and several longtime friends who have become billionaires under his regime and who may handle some of his investments.
The U.S. strategy could have the advantage of punishing Mr. Putin while minimizing the collateral damage to the U.S., European and global economies that could come from a broader economic war. At the same time, Mr. Obama sought to deter further Russian aggression by granting authority for sanctions against Russian economic sectors, including the energy industry.
Mr. Obama should get credit for leading the Western response to Mr. Putin: Burdened by the need to establish consensus among 28 governments and with larger domestic equities at stake, the European Union has not been as aggressive in targeting the Putin circle. But the U.S. sanctions still fall far short of what is needed to inflict the massive damage to the Russian economy threatened by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, much less force a retreat from Crimea.
The test now will be whether Mr. Putin ceases what has been a steady escalation since Russian troops fanned out in Crimea nearly three weeks ago. On Thursday the outlook was not good: Moscow not only sanctioned several U.S. politicians and White House officials but it also imposed what U.S. officials said appeared to be a trade embargo with Ukraine.
If the latest sanctions do not quickly sober them up, Mr. Obama must not hesitate to expand the range of sanctions from Mr. Putins inner circle to the pillars of the Russian economy.
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