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The Wake-Up Call: Europe Toughens Stance against Putin

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A column of hearses leaves an airbase in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, carrying the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash.

By SPIEGEL Staff

 

It took the shooting down of a Boeing jet carrying almost 300 people before the EU agreed on the first true economic sanctions against Russia. The Americans want further action, but it is impossible to know if punitive measures can sway Vladimir Putin.

'Simply Ridiculous"

Russian President Vladimir Putin has so far resisted Western attempts to force him to abandon support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.European leaders are expected to officially approve the new sanctions against Russian banks, companies and private citizens by the end of this week. Despite the summer break, the German government is hoping for a special summit in Brussels. The EU message to Putin, after all, must also be accompanied by images -- symbolism strong enough to be worthy of the pictures from the MH 17 crash site.

Staying the Course

Pushing Putin into a Corner

Of the very few people who have dared to say this openly, one is former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, a liberal. According to his calculations, rearmament, military intervention in eastern Ukraine and sanctions could cost Russia up to 20 percent of its economic strength within a few years. Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov was even blunter: "If sanctions were imposed against the entire Russian financial sector, our economy would collapse in six weeks."

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