In One Paragraph, Why Putin Is Probably Chuckling At The Latest Sanctions

“…today’s action fell well short of broad sanctions against the Russian energy sector. We would suggest that the U.S. action was taken very carefully so as to enable European leaders to present a united front. As we have noted in past publications, divergent energy security risks have undercut policy unity between U.S. and Europe since the shale gas boom. In our view, Western leaders likely want to avoid taking any action that would reinforce Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sense he can exploit this divergence to his advantage. As we noted on Friday, Europe has differentially greater trade exposure, too.”

That’s the take from Kevin Book, managing director of Clearview Energy Partners, on the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Russia.

The new penalties seem to be a ratcheting-up from the previous round, since the U.S. is now target people in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, like Igor Sechin, the head of energy giant Rosneft and a man once described as “the scariest man on Earth.”

But while the names may be flashier this time around, the sanctions themselves may not end up doing much to deter further Russian incursions.

For Book, who recently gave us an in-depth tour of global energy markets for our “10 Things You Need To Know” morning bulletin, today’s announcement was much too delicate to be of much use.

Instead, he says, the U.S. should come up with a “script” that would give Puting a pretext to backdown, and that there remains no compelling reason for Putin to pull the troops amassaed at Ukraine’s border.

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