Vladimir Putin Shrugs Off U.S. Sanctions


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As if he couldn't care less, Russian president Vladimir Putin appears completely unaffected by the sanctions the Obama administration has placed on Russian officials, including Putin.

"You know, both in the first case -- the American sanctions -- and in the second case -- the introduction of a visa regime with Ukraine -- I think we should for now hold off on reciprocal steps," Putin told a meeting of his Security Council.

Yesterday, President Obama added to those sanctions, with more punitive measures against 20 lawmakers, officials and billionaires believed to be close to Putin. These came after the White House named the first round of targets this week, including several Russian officials, who then mocked the punitive measures as meaningless because they had no assets in the United States.

With the most recent announcement, the Treasury Department argued that the sanctions would, in all likelihood, severely limit some Russian oligarchs' ability to do business outside of Russia.

"With its currency near an all-time low, its stock market down 20% this year and a marked rise in interest rates, Russia has already started to bear the economic costs of its unlawful effort to undermine Ukraine's security, stability and sovereignty," said David Cohen, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

Putin, with his dark and flippant attitude, said he would open an account with a bank targeted by the Washington sanctions, which came in response to Kremlin's decision to send troops to Crimea, including a move to make it part of Russian territory.

The Russian president also said he would task his aides with transferring his salary to Bank Rossiya described by Washington as a "crony bank" for the Russian elite.

"No doubt we should not only protect but also render every possible assistance to the bank's clients," Putin added, speaking to Russian journalists.

But Russia's Alfa-Bank commented that these sanctions would have a limited effect and a "negative sentiment will be emotional in nature".

However, Visa and MasterCard have stopped servicing the credit cards of customers using the banks affected by the Washington blacklists.

Russia semi-retaliated though, Thursday they said it was introducing travel bans against nine US officials.

That came in response to an announcement by Washington on Monday of financial sanctions on seven top Russian government officials and lawmakers, which represented the first U.S. sanctions.

"I guess this means my spring break in Siberia is off," US Senator John McCain, one of the nine US officials on the Russian blacklist, quipped on Twitter.

"Well, Jonnie, never say never!" replied Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is on the US sanctions list.

President Obama said there is currently no military option being considered in response to Russia's actions, in an interview on Wednesday.

"But what we can do is stand up for principle, stand by the Ukrainian people," Obama told KSDK-TV.

Image via Wikimedia Commons