Earlier on Monday, President Barack Obama and the European Union announced a series of sanctions against specific Russian officials. However, Russian markets rallied, as the response was viewed as weak and doing little to impact the Russian economy. The sanctions, which are set against officials involved with the vote, do not even include Russia President Vladimir Putin.
Greg White, the Moscow Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal reports that news of the White House sanctions did not have the intended effect. Relieved over how limited they are, the Russian market enjoyed a rally:
Strong signal? Russian markets rally on relief that sanctions lists limited #ukraine
— greg white (@whitegl) March 17, 2014
President Obama made clear in his statement that he is giving himself room to increase the pain through further sanctions. But Russia also has the power to retaliate financially against a Europe and Ukraine that relies on Putin’s growing empire for energy.
Overall, the Obama White House and much of the mainstream media seem to believe that economic pressure against Putin is some sort of silver bullet to stop his empire building. Russian history says different. Putin is a student and acolyte of his predecessors Stalin and Lenin. Marxist-Leninist thinking is long-term, not based on that day’s poll or focus group. If past is prologue, Putin is more than willing to let his people suffer in furtherance of a hundred-year goal to rebuild the Soviet Empire.