This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Russian Bear's Tight Squeeze

"In the wake of continued aggression by Russia, which includes the ongoing supply of logistical support and weapons systems to agents of the Putin regime in eastern Ukraine, Canada is announcing its intent to once again increase economic and political pressure, in the coming days, by imposing additional sanctions on the regime and those closest to it."
"President Putin's failure to end his support to armed rebel groups constitutes a very real threat to international peace and security. His actions represent an overt, direct threat to the Ukrainian people and its rightfully elected government,"
Prime Minster Stephen Harper, Ottawa, Canada

"Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of progress. It does not have to be this way. We can't, in the end, make President Putin see more clearly; ultimately that's something President Putin has to do on his own."
U.S. President Barack Obama

"Furthermore, when the violence created spirals out of control and leads to the killing of almost 300 innocent civilians in their flight from the Netherlands to Malaysia, the situation requires urgent and determined response."
 "[The 28-nation bloc means to send a] strong warning [to President Putin that the] illegal annexation [of Crimea and Russia's destabilization of Ukraine cannot be tolerated]."
Herman Van Rompuy, EU president, Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission president

Europe's capital markets, EU citizens and banks will now be barred from buying bonds or stocks issued by state-owned Russian banks in an effort to restrict Russia's access to Europe's capital markets. For its part, the U.S. sanctioned three Russian banks; VTB Bank, Bank of Moscow, and the Russian Agricultural Bank; along with a state-owned shipbuilder. Credits encouraging exports to Russia have been suspended, and the export of certain goods to Russia's oil and gas industry have been prohibited.

The new European sanctions will include an arms embargo on Moscow along with a ban on the sale of technology that could have dual military and civilian use, or is of a sensitive nature, such as advanced equipment used for deep-sea and Arctic oil drilling. Europe has hesitated to embark on tougher sanctions, more highly dependent on its trade relationship with Russia, for fear of harming their own economies and with a view to their gas dependence on Russia.

Germany imports one-third of its gas from Russia. France has decided to proceed with its contract to deliver two high-value warships to Russia. "Unlike the Americans, we always have to get 28 countries together. And the interests are very different. All the same, I think that we -- at the latest with the shooting down of this plane -- have a situation in which we cannot simply carry on in the same way", explained Sigmar Gabriel, the German vice-chancellor and economy minister.

American authorities state they expect Europe's list of targets to include some of the same energy companies, defence suppliers and financial institutions hit with sanctions by the Obama administration even before the Malaysian airliner had been shot down from the sky over Ukraine. President Putin's obduracy may continue; there are rumours in certain circles that the Kremlin has decided to give permission for Russian forces to enter Ukraine.

If so, Russia will have completely isolated itself and earned the umbrage -- with an emphasis on outrage and disappointment -- of the rest of Europe and North America. As its already-embattled economy slowly disintegrates and Russian citizens find themselves no longer so willing to admire and encourage their belligerent president to continue raising the outraged hackles of other world leaders.

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