Vise tightens around Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be an atypical world leader, coming as he does from a world of spooks.

He does, however, hang with people with lots of money — which doesn’t make him much different from other heads of state and/or government.

Thus, the increased sanctions announced today by President Obama just might persuade the Russian leader to end his effort to foment unrest in Ukraine.

The White House announced that it is implementing further economic hardship on individuals and companies close to Putin. Obama called it a “calibrated effort” designed to inform Putin of the folly of his continued presence in Ukraine’s sovereign affairs.

The sanctions already announced have had an impact. The Russian ruble’s value has plummeted, along with the Russian stock exchange. Russian investments have tanked.

Have the efforts persuaded Putin to back off? No. They have, however, persuaded the Russians to seek a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, which exploded several months ago with the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russia president and the subsequent annexation of Crimea into Russia.

We’ve seen a lot of blustering among Russians, Americans, NATO and the European Union. No one should really believe all-out war is going to erupt, despite claims by both sides that the other guys want to start a shooting war.

“The goal here is not to go after Mr. Putin, personally,” Obama said. “The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he’s engaging in in Ukraine could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul.”

Actually, Mr. President, the goal seems to be to go after Putin “personally,” which is OK with me and I am guessing a lot of other Americans.

Make him squirm.

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