Obama is right when, during an April 27 press conference in Malaysia, he said that Europe is the most affected by Russia’s war against Ukraine and that sanctions against the Kremlin will be most effective if the European Union joins with America. Trade between the European Union and Russia amounted to almost $370 billion in 2012, The New York Times estimated, while United States trade with Russia was about $26 billion that year.
But he is wrong in saying that the United States should not “go forward with sectoral sanctions on our own without the Europeans.” In my view, if strong leadership comes from the United States, it will make it easier for Europe to follow.
Regrettably, that leadership is not coming from Obama. As today’s news reports suggest, the West’s sanctions against Russia next week will be a little more of the same — expanding the list of individuals on the blacklist. It’s not enough at this stage in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.