mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Sanctions for Russia
Will Europe Rattle Putin's Cage?

Officials from the U.S. and other Western powers pointed fingers at Vladimir Putin over the weekend for his continued support of the Ukrainian separatists responsible for the downing of Malaysia Air flight 17. According to the FT, Putin received calls from Germany, France, and the UK on Sunday, all threatening harsher sanctions if Putin did not immediately change course. The scope of what exactly these sanctions would entail remains undefined, and divisions between the Europeans still lurk beneath the surface:

These differences will probably come to the fore on Tuesday, when EU foreign ministers meet for the first time since the crash, armed with a recently enhanced legal mandate that allows them to target a broader range of individuals and companies. There are no preparatory meetings planned on Monday, giving the gathering an unpredictable edge.

The most likely consensus option for European leaders seems to be expanding the list of sanctionees to include Putin’s inner circle. A tailored arms embargo, which would notably not prevent France from selling its Mistral amphibious assault ships to Russia, is apparently also in the running. “Level Three” sanctions, targeting entire sectors of the Russian economy, however, do not appear to be in the cards.

This is a shame, because the mere prospect of that kind of clampdown has Russia’s billionaires bawling to Blooomberg:

“The economic and business elite is just in horror,” said Igor Bunin, who heads the Center for Political Technology in Moscow. Nobody will speak out because of the implicit threat of retribution, Bunin said by phone yesterday. “Any sign of rebellion and they’ll be brought to their knees.”

While Putin clearly has the lid down tight for the time being, and while it’s likely that he would ultimately prevail domestically if he had to go to war with his moneyed elites, he would probably not relish having to do so. The Europeans, should they choose to go that route, have a real opportunity to rattle Putin. Unfortunately it appears that Putin understands just how real Europe’s divisions are. For now he seems to think he can weather another half-hearted European attempt to bring him to heel.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Silverfiddle

    Europe will talk tough until winter, when they need Russian gas to heat their homes…

    • cubanbob

      Absolutely correct sir!

    • Corlyss

      How tough can any talk, by them or us, be when the noise is sound and fury signifying nothing? Tough talk is tough only if it is believable.

    • Boritz

      You’re generous to attribute to them two months of pseudo-backbone.

  • Breif2

    “Unfortunately it appears that Putin understands just how real Europe’s divisions are.”

    Heh. 🙂

  • Duperray

    Europe is not OK to risk long term Russi economic lonks destruction (perhaps also war) for the sake of american who care only their bank account.
    Please Dems, remove your tainted eye glasses, forget old fahion demoniacs, let Republicans lead US foreign policy towards the real dangers. This is the America we respect.

    • Breif2

      I have now seen the light.

    • Corlyss

      Dems are perfect. They believe they have never in their existence made a mistake in policy, not even the 300+ years of their sponsorship of slavery and Jim Crow. Indeed they have managed, in one of the most spectacular slights of hand ever, to have convinced entire generations that in fact Republicans were the authors and the beneficiaries of those dark and unhappy practices.

  • FriendlyGoat

    How much LNG can we export to Europe? How soon? Isn’t that the only way you get a “bold” Europe?

    • Corlyss

      I’m not sure we export any LNG at this time. The reason I suspect we don’t, but I could be wrong, is I’ve heard dire reports of envirothugs plans to sue, and sue, and keep suing, to prevent export.

      • FriendlyGoat

        I think they’re more concerned with exporting oil and light oil.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Europe is toothless.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service