The United States and European Union have announced new measures to punish Russia for its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine. The measures are directed against Russia’s energy, arms and banking industries. President Barack Obama says the new sanctions are meant to increase pressure on those responsible for what he calls Russia’s “illegal actions” in Ukraine.
“It does not have to be this way. This is a choice that Russia, and President Putin in particular, has made. There continues to be a better choice – the choice of de-escalation, the choice of joining the world in a diplomatic solution to this situation.”
European action is important because of Russia’s large influence in European markets, and the unwillingness of some European leaders to anger Russia.
“The fact that we’ve seen the Europeans -- who have real, legitimate economic concerns in severing certain ties with Russia – stepping up the way they have today. I think it is an indication of the waning patience that Europe has nice words from President Putin that are not matched by actions.”
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says sanctions will not realize their stated goal.
“I assure you, we will overcome any difficulties that may arise in certain areas of the economy, and maybe we will become more independent and more confident in our own strength. This is also good.”
On Wednesday, Russia’s central bank said it plans to support financial organizations affected by the new sanctions. The bank promised to take what it called “adequate measures” to support those institutions.
I’m Mario Ritter.