Fleitz: Europe Fears Putin May Retaliate Over Sanctions on Russian Economy
French President Francois Hollande said today that his country wants Western sanctions on Russia lifted if progress is made during talks on the conflict in Ukraine later this month.
The sanctions were put in place after Russia's annexation of Crimea and could bring the Russian economy to the brink of collapse, according to many analysts.
Fred Fleitz said on "Happening Now" today that he doesn't think President Obama has fully thought through the strategy of putting sanctions on a nuclear power with an unpredictable leader.
"I think we wanted to harm the Russian economy, not destroy it," Fleitz said. "And Europe is now seeing that the effect of these sanctions may be so severe Putin may try to retaliate against Europe. And they're worried about that."
Fleitz said he's not sure how close Russia may be to economic catastrophe. He estimated that they have enough farm reserves to prop up their economy for two years, and oil prices will not remain low for that long.
"What if Putin was to say, 'I'm going to invade another state unless these sanctions are lifted.' I'm not sure how the West would react," Fleitz said.
He added it's only a matter of time before the U.S. has to drop the sanctions because of the need to work with Russia on other issues, such as the Iranian nuclear program.
Fleitz asserted that the U.S. should lift the sanctions, except for on individuals who are responsible for the violence in Ukraine.
"I don't think we want to destroy the Russian economy because the cost to the global economy in Europe would simply be too great."
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