Ukraine crisis: New sanctions target Putin's inner circle
U.S. and allies hope penalties will have a significant impact on the Russian economy
New penalties expected this week against Moscow for its actions against Ukraine will include steps against high-technology exports to the Russian defence industry and the companies controlled by those closest to President Vladimir Putin, a White House aide said Sunday.
Deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken said the U.S. and its allies will designate new sanctions against Putin's inner circle that will have "a significant impact on the Russian economy."
"We'll be looking at taking steps as well with regard to high-technology exports to their defence industry. All of this together is going to have an impact," Blinken said.
He did not provide additional details.
The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee pushed for targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy.
"To me, hitting four of the largest banks there would send shockwaves into the economy. Hitting Gazprom would certainly send shockwaves into the economy," Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said, referring to Russia's state gas monopoly.
Current sanctions not creating enough 'pain'
Corker added that the current sanctions on individuals are "not creating the kind of pain within Russia that will cause Putin to change his behaviour."
But Blinken detailed the effects that he said current sanctions have had on Russia: financial markets down 22 percent since the beginning of the year, the ruble at an all-time low, $70 billion in capital moved out of the country.
Blinken said the sanctions are aimed at a pact Putin made with the Russian people to deliver economic growth in exchange for political complacency. The penalties are making fulfillment of his promise difficult for Putin.
"We're already seeing projection for growth going into under 1 per cent this year. So that compact is eroding and he has very hard choices to make," Blinken said.
Earlier Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama said in Malaysia that the U.S. would be in a stronger position to deter Putin once Putin sees the world is unified in punishing Russia.
Obama said Russia wasn't abiding by a deal reached to ease tensions.
Blinken made his comments on CNN's State of the Union, CBS' Face the Nation and NBC's Meet the Press. Corker appeared on CBS.