Obama has been trying to find the right note to strike in opposing Putin's aggressive response to events in Ukraine. He has been trying to lay out threats of sanctions that would be sufficiently devastating to make Putin back off. The problem is that outside of the every willing US poodle the UK, nobody else seems very willing to march to the beat of his drum.
A rift appeared to be opening up on Monday night between the US and Europe on how to punish Vladimir Putin for his occupation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, with European capitals resisting Washington's push towards tough sanctions.Economic sanctions against Russia would be limited in their impact on the US economy which makes pushing them politically feasible for Obama. However, the other side of that coin is that the economic connections between the two countries are sufficiently limited that they wouldn't be terribly devastating to Russia. Continental Europe is where the economic action is.
With the Americans, supported by parts of eastern Europe and Sweden, pushing for punitive measures against Moscow, EU foreign ministers divided into hawks and doves, preferring instead to pursue mediation and monitoring of the situation in Ukraine and to resist a strong sanctions package against Russia.
But at an emergency meeting in Brussels the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Italy and Spain resisted calls for trade sanctions, instead limiting discussion to freezing long-running talks with Russia on visa liberalisation that would have made it easier for Russians to visit Europe. Washington is also threatening to kick Russia out of the G8 group of leading economies, but Berlin opposes this.Even the poodle doesn't want to give up the kibble.
Britain's attempts to ensure any EU action against Russia over Ukraine would exempt the City of London were embarrassingly revealed when a secret government document detailing the plan was photographed in Downing Street. The document said Britain should "not support, for now, trade sanctions … or close London's financial centre to Russians".So while the EU plans to hold its interminable committee meetings and consultations, Russia is tightening the grip on Crimea and pro Russian demonstrations have been organized in other Ukrainian cities. It all seems to be getting rather messy