The United States and its European allies hit more than two dozen Russian government officials, executives and companies with new sanctions Monday as punishment for their country´s actions in Ukraine, yet the penalties stopped short of targeting Russia´s broader economy and it remained unclear if they would work.
In Moscow, there was relief that the sanctions were not as far-ranging as feared.The measures, including asset freezes and visa bans, affect people close to the Kremlin, and Western leaders hope those hurt by the sanctions will pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to limit his reach in Ukraine and de-escalate the crisis there. However, the Russian leader himself was not among those targeted, and Obama administration officials acknowledged there was no expectation that Putin would quickly change course.
Still, officials in Washington and Brussels said the sanctions, coupled with an initial set imposed following Russia´s annexation of the Crimean peninsula last month, would significantly boost the cost to Moscow of ignoring an agreement it signed earlier this month to take concrete steps to ease tensions in Ukraine. “The goal here is not to go after Mr. Putin personally,” President Barack Obama told reporters in the Philippines, where he was wrapping up a four-nation trip to Asia.
“The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he´s engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul. “Obama said Russia still could resolve the Ukraine crisis diplomatically. But he sounde d far from confident about the immediate prospects for the new sanctions packages. “We don´t yet know whether it´s going to work,” he said. In addition to the sanctions on the seven individuals and 17 companies, there also are new arms and technology export restrictions on Russia.