State Dept: Russia Is Feeling Economic Pain. Really. No, We Mean That.
Russia's intervention in Crimea has cost it "real economic pain," the United States said Wednesday as it readied a new slew of sanctions to punish Moscow for taking over Ukraine's southern peninsula.
"The question at this point is not if we will do more sanctions, it's when," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
On Monday, Washington rolled out a series of sanctions against 11 mostly Russian officials, including seven of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.
Psaki insisted there has been "a huge economic impact" following Moscow's intervention in Crimea.
Asked about reports that the whole 450-member Russian Duma has responded by calling on the US to sanction them, Psaki retorted: "Be careful what you ask for."
Publicly, Russian officials have laughed off the US sanctions, which freeze their assets in the US, despite similar travel bans and sanctions imposed by the EU.
But Psaki hit back "that there is real economic pain, and if President Putin cares about the economy in his country, cares about the economic impact on the people of his country, cares about his place in the world, then those are all factors that should be looked at."
She reeled off a list of figures, including that Russian stock indexes plunged 17 percent Friday to their lowest levels since 2009, and that the ruble has hit a five-year low against the dollar.
"Russia's 19 richest people lost $18.3 billion due to stock market volatility on March 3 -- the first day of trading after the beginning of Russian military intervention in Crimea," Psaki told reporters.
Oh, the bluster.
Here in the Diplomacy of Oprah Era, we are supposed to believe in the power of BIG SCARY WORDS when it comes to dealing with various ne'er do wells around the world. Publicly "ruble shaming" Vladimir Putin probably sounds like a viable approach to many inside Team Lightbringer. Most of us, however, probably have already gotten the impression that Vlad probably isn't going to be embarrassed because someone at State is casting aspersions on his level of concern for the Russian people.