WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has drawn up plans to escalate sanctions against Russia by targeting its financial, energy and defense industries but faces resistance from European allies hoping to avoid a broader economic clash with Moscow that would hurt their own businesses, the New York Times reported Tuesday, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
Even as the Kremlin voices support for a cease-fire, U.S. officials remain unconvinced. Russia has moved troops back to the border and positioned heavy artillery there in what U.S. officials consider an effort to help the separatists.
But President Barack Obama faces hurdles as he tries to keep the pressure up on the government of President Vladimir Putin. European Union leaders, who are scheduled to meet on Friday in Brussels, are reluctant to go along if it looks like Putin may be backing down. And U.S. business leaders objecting to unilateral actions that would hurt their companies are kicking off an advertising campaign to oppose Obama's plans.
Obama called British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday to consult on the next steps. Both indicated that Russia had yet to take the sort of actions sought by the Group of Seven industrial nations this month to avoid additional sanctions.
Cameron's office said Russia had not halted the flow of militants and arms into Ukraine nor stopped training separatist groups. The U.S. and British leaders "reaffirmed their commitment to implementing further sanctions on Russia if these things don't happen," Cameron's office said in a statement.
The Obama administration has developed three options for further actions, according to government officials: banning any interactions with some of Russia's largest banks; cutting off technology transfers to Russian energy and defense firms; and halting business with Russian defense companies.
The drive for more sanctions come as U.S. businesses are growing more vocal in protesting the possibility that the United States may act on its own. Leading business groups, including he U.S. Chamber of Commerce, plan to start an advertising campaign voicing their concerns.