Bolton: Latest Sanctions Against Russia 'Pure Foolishness'

Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 09:07 PM

By Greg Richter

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The Obama administration on Thursday added nine more Russian officials and one bank to the sanction list of 11 officials announced earlier this week, but former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton is skeptical they will be effective.

"This is just pure foolishness, what is going on now," Bolton said Thursday on Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren."   No one should operate under the illusion that sanctioning nine individuals will have an effect on their behavior, he said. 

As for the bank, Bolton said, "That's a matter of one electronic transfer to evade that sanction."

The sanctions are intended to put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin by hurting the pocketbooks of the oligarchy – the rich and high-powered who support him.

Russia laughed off the sanctions and retaliated by barring nine U.S. officials from travel to Russia. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who was on that list, had a laugh of his own, tweeting:



But Bolton said the White House is giving Putin a signal that the whole affair is frivolous and he still has a free hand in Ukraine. Russia has taken over Crimea from Ukraine in recent days and fears are growing that he intends to take over the rest of the country.

Bolton said Obama is engaging in "semiotic warfare," in which words, signals, and symbols are used to the exclusion of military force. Semiotic warfare will have no effect on Putin, a brutal former KGB colonel intent on reconstituting the old Soviet Union, Bolton said.

Crimea is a very small portion of Russia's plans, he said. Tensions in Ukraine between the Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking populations are growing, he said, as they are in other former Soviet republics.

The United States has taken a "small tortoise step ahead" over the European Union in announcing the sanctions, but the E.U. is still unlikely to join in, he said, and U.S. sanctions won't effect Russia if the E.U. doesn't go along.

"This is not an economic issue. This is a security issue," Bolton said, adding that until the United States and Europe take security steps such as talking to Ukraine about joining NATO, Russia will disregard what we do.

"I think adversaries of the United States all over the world are saying, if that's the best he can do when military force crosses an international border on the continent of Europe … and they get away with it, it means that military force is a much more viable weapon against allies of the United States than in a long, long time," Bolton said.

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