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Associated Press
Masked pro-Russian activists guard the entrance during their mass storming of a regional Television Centre in Donetsk, Ukraine, Sunday.

White House: New sanctions will hit Putin’s circle

WASHINGTON – New penalties expected this week against Moscow for its actions against Ukraine will include high technology exports to the Russian defense industry and the companies controlled by those closest to President Vladimir Putin, a White House aide said Sunday.

Deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken says the U.S. and its allies will designate new sanctions against people in Putin’s inner circle and the companies they control that have “a significant impact on the Russian economy.”

“We’ll be looking at taking steps as well with regard to high technology exports to their defense industry. All of this together is going to have an impact,” Blinken said.

He did not provide additional details.

The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee pushed for targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy.

“To me, hitting four of the largest banks there would send shockwaves into the economy. Hitting Gazprom would certainly send shockwaves into the economy,” Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said, referring to Russia’s state gas monopoly.

Corker added that the current sanctions on individuals are “not creating the kind of pain within Russia that will cause Putin to change his behavior.”

But Blinked detailed the effects that he said current sanctions have had on Russia: financial markets down 22 percent since the beginning of the year, the ruble at an all-time low, $70 billion in capital moved out of the country.

Blinken said the sanctions are aimed at a compact Putin made with the Russian people to deliver economic growth in exchange for political complacency. The penalties are making fulfillment of his promise difficult for Putin.

“We’re already seeing projection for growth going into under 1 percent this year. So that compact is eroding and he has very hard choices to make,” Blinken said.

Earlier Sunday, President Barack Obama said in Malaysia that the U.S. would be in a stronger position to deter Putin once Putin sees the world is unified in punishing Russia.

Obama said Russia wasn’t abiding by a deal reached to ease tensions.

Blinken made his comments on CNN’s “State of the Union,” CBS’ “Face the Nation” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Corker appeared on CBS.

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