Obama: Additional Sanctions on Russia ‘Could Cause Some Disruptions to Each of Our Economies’

March 25, 2014 - 7:14 PM

APTOPIX Obama Netherlands Nuclear Summit

President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) – President Obama on Tuesday acknowledged, again, that tougher sanctions which would be imposed against Russia should it encroach further into Ukraine would have an impact on the global economy.

In a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague, Obama also disputed that Russia’s annexation of Crimea was a “done deal,” on the grounds most of the international community does not recognize it – although he conceded that Russian armed forces now control Crimea and “there’s no expectation that they will be dislodged by force.”

“And so what we can bring to bear are the legal arguments, the diplomatic arguments, the political pressure, the economic sanctions that are already in place to try to make sure that there’s a cost to that process,” he added.

Obama said steps taken earlier by the U.S. and European Union in response to Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine – visa bans and asset freezes on senior Russian figures and sanctions against a bank – “have already had some impact on the Russian economy.”

And he said further measures that would be taken “should Russia take this next step” – encroach further into Ukrainian territory – would target “entire sectors of the Russian economy.”

He admitted, not for the first time, that such measures would cause “some disruption, in fact, to the global economy – but they’ll have the greatest impact on Russia.”

“It has not just been my suggestion but it has also been the European Council’s suggestion that should Russia go further, such sectoral sanctions would be appropriate. And that would include areas potentially like energy, or finance, or arm sales, or trade that exists between Europe and the United States and Russia,” he said.

“Although it could cause some disruptions to each of our economies or certain industries, what I’ve been encouraged by is the firmness and the willingness on the part of all countries to look at ways in which they can participate in this process,” Obama said. “Our preference throughout will be to resolve this diplomatically, but I think we’re prepared – as we’ve already shown – to take the next step if the situation gets worse.”

Rutte also spoke about the possibility of sanctions against sectors of the Russian economy and their potential impact on Western nations.

“Obviously, you can never guarantee that the people in Europe, in Canada, in the U.S. would not be hurt,” he said. “But obviously, we will make sure that we will design these sanctions in such a way that they will have maximum impact on the Russian economy and not on the European, the Canadian, the Japanese, or the American economy.”

The E.U. is Russia’s biggest trading partner, and Europe gets about 30 percent of its natural gas from Russia.

The U.S. and NATO allies are concerned President Vladimir Putin may be considering pushing into other areas of eastern Ukraine where large numbers of Russian-speakers live, concerns that have been fueled by the presence of tens of thousands of Russian troops deployed near its border with Ukraine.

Obama noted that the troops were at present located on Russian soil and that Russia was legally entitled to have them there – although “we oppose what appears to be an effort in intimidation.”

“I think that Russia is still making a series of calculations,” he said. “And, again, those calculations will be impacted in part by how unified the United States and Europe are and the international community is in saying to Russia that this is not how in the 21st century we resolve disputes.”