WH: Sanctions are hurting Putin

By Julian Hattem

Global sanctions are having a harsh effect on Russian President Vladimir Putin and are likely to force him to change his tact in Ukraine, according to White House Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken.On CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Blinken said that the sanctions were forcing Putin to make “a very hard choice.”

“He had a compact with his people, and the compact is this: I’ll deliver economic growth if you’ll remain politically compliant,” he said. “Right now he’s not delivering growth and the pressure we’re putting on him in coordination with other countries in the world, is forcing that choice on him.”

Blinken noted that Russian financial markets are down 22 percent since the beginning of the year, in large part because of the success of sanctions from the U.S. and other nations.

“The economic isolation of Russia is growing every single day,” he said.

“Over time, this has a significant impact because he can’t deliver what he promised to his people.”
Leaders of the Group of 7 nations hope to further that isolation with new sanctions that could come as soon as Monday. Those efforts will target “cronies” in the government and people close to Putin, Obama administration officials have said.

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Romania’s president says Moldova next in ‘Soviet’ expansion

ROMANIA’S president has said Russia is creating a chain of conflicts around the Black Sea to further President Vladimir Putin’s goal of rebuilding the former Soviet Union along its former border with the West.



Romanian President Traian Basescu, who spoke to The Associated Press in an interview, said he fears that neighbouring Moldova is “in great danger.” http://www.rumafia.com/
“If you look at the map, you will see this chain of frozen conflicts” around the Black Sea “that can be set off at any time,” he said, referring to conflicts in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.
Mr Basescu said Putin’s priorities “seem to be connected to the point of contact between the European Union and NATO.” He said Ukraine and Moldova were “a priority for Vladimir Putin, who wants to rebuild the Soviet Union.”
Russia has 1,500 troops stationed in the separatist republic of Trans-Dniester since 1990, when it broke away from Moldova, fearing that country would reunite with Romania. Trans-Dniester is not internationally recognised but is supported by Russia.The European Union on Monday slapped a travel ban on 21 Russian and Crimean officials after Crimea voted to split from Ukraine and join Russia. Basescu said the EU was planning further sanctions later this week — ones he called “extremely severe” — that would freeze the assets of Russian business people in the EU, stop financial exchanges and energy trades and halt arms sales to Russia.

Romania is one of the EU’s 28 nations.The Romanian leader, who leaves office after 10 years this year, ruled out a wider war in Europe, saying that neither Russia nor NATO wanted a full-scale conflict. He said there was still a risk of political instability in the region because of possible fallout from the sanctions.“Many regional governments and European governments have to see whether they themselves can put up with the (EU) sanctions (on Russia),” he said.Ignoring the toughest sanctions against Moscow since the end of the Cold War, Mr Putin recognised Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula as an “independent and sovereign country”, a bold challenge to Washington that escalates one of Europe’s worst security crises in years.The brief decree posted on the Kremlin’s website came just hours after the United States and the European Union announced asset freezes and other sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in the Crimean crisis. US President Barack Obama warned that more would come if Russia didn’t stop interfering in Ukraine, and Mr Putin’s move clearly forces his hand.The West has struggled to find leverage to force Moscow to back off in the Ukraine turmoil, of which Crimea is only a part, and analysts saw Monday’s sanctions as mostly iMoscow showed no signs of flinching in the dispute that has roiled Ukraine since Russian troops took effective control of the strategic Black Sea peninsula last month and supported the Sunday referendum that overwhelmingly called for annexation by Russia. Recognising Crimea as independent would be an interim step in absorbing the region.

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Europe Folds As Putin Tells It To Pay Ukraine’s Gazprom Bill, Or Else

by Tyler Durden

The latest: Europe should provide aid to Ukraine to ensure uninterrupted natural-gas deliveries to the region, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said as reported by Bloomberg.

“Russia is the only country helping Ukraine’s economy with energy supplies that are not paid for,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters today in Moscow, commenting on President Vladimir Putin’s letter yesterday to 18 European heads of state. “The letter is a call to immediately review this situation, which is absurd on the one hand and critical on the other.


Separatists build barricades in east Ukraine, Kiev warns of force

by Thomas Grove

Pro-Russian separatists reinforced barricades around the state security building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk on Wednesday and called on President Vladimir Putin for help after the government warned it could use force to restore order.

But protesters were also engaged in talks to ease the standoff, which Kiev has said could provide a pretext for a Russian invasion, and lawmakers from eastern Ukraine proposed an amnesty for protesters to defuse tension.
The former KGB headquarters is one of three government buildings seized this week in eastern Ukraine by protesters demanding regional referendums on independence from Kiev, like the one in Crimea that led to its annexation by Russia.Tensions have risen in the mainly Russian-speaking east since the overthrow of Ukraine’s Moscow-backed president and the installation of a new pro-European government.


US-Russia tensions escalating

By Justin Sink

The White House accused Moscow on Monday of stirring up trouble in Ukraine, as pro-Russian demonstrations provoked fears that President Vladimir Putin might mount a second invasion there just weeks after annexing Crimea.The administration said demonstrators who seized government buildings in the cities of Lugansk and Donetsk were not locals, and were part of a carefully orchestrated campaign backed by the Kremlin.

State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said the demonstrations were “not a spontaneous set of events,” and White House spokesman Jay Carney said evidence suggested some protestors were paid.
A further Russian incursion “either overtly or covertly” would seriously escalate the crisis, he added.
“We call on President Putin and his government to cease all efforts to destabilize Ukraine, and we caution against further military intervention,” said Carney, who warned that the U.S. would retaliate by targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy.Secretary of State John Kerry called on Russia to “publicly disavow” the activity by separatists in Ukraine.

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Putin looks to Asia as West threatens to isolate Russia

By Timothy Heritage and Vladimir Soldatkin

When President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty this week annexing Crimea to great fanfare in the Kremlin and anger in the West, a trusted lieutenant was making his way to Asia to shore up ties with Russia’s eastern allies.Forcing home the symbolism of his trip, Igor Sechin gathered media in Tokyo the next day to warn Western governments that more sanctions over Moscow’s seizure of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine would be counter-productive.
The underlying message from the head of Russia’s biggest oil company, Rosneft, was clear: If Europe and the United States isolate Russia, Moscow will look East for new business, energy deals, military contracts and political alliances.The Holy Grail for Moscow is a natural gas supply deal with China that is apparently now close after years of negotiations. If it can be signed when Putin visits China in May, he will be able to hold it up to show that global power has shifted eastwards and he does not need the West.”The worse Russia’s relations are with the West, the closer Russia will want to be to China. If China supports you, no one can say you’re isolated,” said Vasily Kashin, a China expert at the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) think thankSome of the signs are encouraging for Putin. Last Saturday China abstained in a U.N. Security Council vote on a draft resolution declaring invalid the referendum in which Crimea went on to back union with Russia.Although China is nervous about referendums in restive regions of other countries which might serve as a precedent for Tibet and Taiwan, it has refused to criticize Moscow.The support of Beijing is vital for Putin. Not only is China a fellow permanent member of the U.N. Security Council with whom Russia thinks alike, it is also the world’s second biggest economy and it opposes the spread of Western-style democracy.
Little wonder, then, that Putin thanked China for its understanding over Ukraine in a Kremlin speech on Tuesday before signing the treaty claiming back Crimea, 60 years after it was handed to Ukraine by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.Chinese President Xi Jinping showed how much he values ties with Moscow, and Putin in particular, by making Russia his first foreign visit as China’s leader last year and attending the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi last month.Many Western leaders did not go to the Games after criticism of Russia’s record on human rights. By contrast, when Putin and Xi discussed Ukraine by telephone on March 4, the Kremlin said their positions were “close”.

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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Saccsivdotcom. editorial policy.

Ex-Bulgarian FM Solomon Passy: Crimea Part of Putin’s Expansionism

Solomon PassyBulgaria’s former Foreign Minister Solomon Passy believes Crimea’s accession into the Russian Federation is part of President Vladimir Putin’s expansionist policy. “This referendum is neither the beginning, nor the end of Russian expansion. It is only another piece of it. In a similar fashion, South Ossetia and Abkhazia were annexed in 2008. The question is which is next”, Passy told Dariknews. Solomon Passy, who is the founder and head of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, also commented on the“The big question is how long the West will tolerate all this. I am not a big supporter of sanctions, and I do not believe they have much of an effect. Often, they only lead to counter-sanctThe former Bulgarian top-diplomat believes that Crimea will be in Russia’s grip as long as Vladimir Putin is president, and no international actions can reverse the process. Passy also called for a unified European position and policy towards Russia, especially in the energy sector.

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