U.S. actions don’t bother Putin

Russian leader Vladimir Putin laughed off U.S. sanctions on individuals and companies in his country a few weeks ago. President Barack Obama’s reaction to that was more of the same.

New U.S. economic sanctions will be imposed against another seven Russian officials as well as 17 companies, it was announced. The new round of toothless reactions to Russian involvement in Ukraine follows other U.S. chest-thumping, including expressions of solidarity with the people in that beleaguered country.

Obama himself announced the new sanctions, during a stop in the Philippines. He said the action is intended to “change (Putin’s) calculus with respect to how the current actions that he’s engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul.”

In fact, it is unlikely either the original or the new sanctions will have much adverse effect on the Russian economy. As for those close to him whose bank accounts are harmed, Putin has the entire machinery and treasury of the Russian government to compensate them.

It has become clear neither the U.S. nor European countries upset about Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine can do much about it. Perhaps the most intelligent tack for Obama to take would be to protest what is happening in Ukraine, but refrain from demonstrating U.S. powerlessness to affect events there.

Our ineffective actions merely remind the rest of the world of our inability to sway Putin.