President Obama Defends His ‘Lockstep With Europe’ Approach to Sanctions on Russia

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U.S. President Barack Obama

 

Addressing a meeting of the President’s Export Council, Obama asked the US business community to support his course on keeping Europe in lockstep with Washington “as there may be some movement out of Congress for us to get ahead of Europe further.”

WASHINGTON, December 11 (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama expressed caution on Thursday about unilaterally ratcheting up sanctions against Russia over Ukraine as the move that could split the United States and Europe.

Addressing a meeting of the President’s Export Council, Obama asked the US business community to support his course on keeping Europe in lockstep with Washington “as there may be some movement out of Congress for us to get ahead of Europe further.”

“The notion that we can simply ratchet up sanctions further and further and further and then ultimately Putin changes his mind, I think is a miscalculation,” Obama said.

“Where Putin will succeed is if it creates a rift in the Trans-Atlantic relationship. If he starts seeing Europe divided from the United States that would be his strategic victory,” Obama stressed calling for “strategic patience.”

“What will ultimately lead to Russia making a strategic decision is if they recognize that Europe is standing with us and we will be in it for the long haul and we are in fact patient,” he said.

“We have been successful with sanctions precisely because we’ve been systematic about it and made sure there wasn’t a lot of daylight between us and the Europeans,” the president emphasized.

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Anti-Russia Sanctions, Counter-Measures Hurting EU Members Economies: UN

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs published the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2015 report, which reads that the sanctions against Russia have had a negative impact on the economies of a number of European countries.

 

UNITED NATIONS, December 11 (Sputnik) — Sanctions, imposed on Russia by the West and Moscow’s counter-measures have had a negative impact on the economies of a number of European countries, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) said in a report.

“Weaker Russian import demand has already affected a number of EU economies, as the Russian market absorbs almost 5 per cent of the euro area’s exports,” DESA’s World Economic Situation and Prospects 2015 report, published Wednesday, read.

According to DESA, the “slowdown in the German economy in the second quarter is partially explained by lower exports of automotive components to the Russian Federation. Moreover, the restriction on supplying deep-water drilling equipment to sanctioned Russian companies affected Germany’s producers.”

Countries such as the Baltic States and Finland will lose transit revenue due to the sanctions regime, the report read, while globally, “the tourism industry will suffer from the depreciation of the Russian currency.”

Addressing Russia’s one-year food import restrictions, DESA noted that for “some East European countries (especially the Baltic States and Poland) and also for Finland and Norway, the Russian Federation absorbs a significant share of their food exports.”

Total EU food exports to the Russian market amount to approximately $11 billion annually, the report read, and “the forgone food exports would impact the entire logistics sector.”

The need to compensate farmers” losses will put pressure on national budgets, DESA stated, and while the EU member states could file a compensation claim with the union, “full coverage of losses is not likely.”

The European Union, alongside the United States, has introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, a claim Moscow has repeatedly denied. In August, Russia responded with a one-year ban on the import of certain food products from the countries that had imposed sanctions against it.

Moscow responded to Western sanctions with a one-year import ban on certain food products in August.

The current sanctions regime has already backfired on a number of European economies. Germany has seen an economic slowdown partially related to the export ban on deep-water drilling equipment to Russia, while countries such as the Baltic states, Poland, Finland and Norway have suffered due to Russia’s food import ban, according to a recent UN report.

 

 

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