How weak are the sanctions President Obama has levied against a tiny handful of Russian individuals in response to an entire nation's invasion of Crimea? So weak that one of the individuals in question is making jokes about them.
Here's the comment from Vladislav Surkov, a Putin aide was one of the few, the proud, to have his international financial affairs put under sanction by the United States: "I'm proud of this so-called 'political Oscar' from America in the nomination of best actor in the supporting role."
Surkov recognizes what Obama doesn't want Americans to understand: He's one of the few players sanctioned, and even he isn't among the very biggest of the fish. Surkov is more like Putin's version of David Axelrod. Dan wrote about this yesterday. Obama is so unserious that he totally let most of the major henchmen here off the hook, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu, Putin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov and FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov. (The FSB is a new name for the KGB.)
So if they're laughing at our sanctions, what will stop them? Maybe the strongly worded pronouncements of one John Kerry! Here's what our esteemed Secretary of State had to say about this yesterday: “Nobody that I know of doubts Russia’s interest in Crimea, but that doesn’t justify just taking what you want because you want it.”
You know, it's funny. It's not hard to make the case that Russia's grab of Crimea is unjustified. But the Russians don't seem too concerned with justification. All that matters to them is that no one is going to stop them and no one is going to make them pay much of a price.
Obama and Kerry really don't understand that it's force and resolve people like Putin respect, not hollow calls to obey international law and certainly not joke sanctions that have Russian political operatives mocking you.
We shouldn't forget that Putin is the bad guy here. I just liked it when we had good guys who meant business running America.