- The Washington Times - Friday, April 11, 2014

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a stern warning to Russia over that nation’s aggression into Ukraine: More sanctions are coming if you don’t about face on the border occupation and tone down aggressions.

Mr. Lew delivered the threat directly to Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov by saying that his boss, President Obama, was more than willing to inflict “additional significant sanctions” if Russia chooses to escalate aggressions and move troops — thousands of whom have been placed into position on the Russia-Ukraine border — deeper into the region, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Lew then characterized Russia’s annexation of Crimea as “illegal and illegitimate,” AP said. The report didn’t include Russia’s response, if any. But Russia has mocked the United States and Mr. Obama for previous economic sanctions imposed over the Ukraine affair — and some legal and political analysts have, too, calling the efforts futile and weak.

Mr. Lew and Mr. Siluanov met for a semi-private chat right before talks are set to go forth among finance chiefs and central bank presidents in the Group of Seven and Group of 20.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lew’s remarks seemed to come from the White House only — and not from the more forceful, unified stage of the G-7. The G-7 statement only said members had talked about “the situation in Ukraine, its financing needs and the international response,” without offering any strong language, AP reported.

France’s finance minister, Michel Sapin, seemed to offer a statement that summed up the other G-7 members’ view of U.S.-Russia relations, post-Ukraine aggression.

“The question is not to talk about sanctions,” Mr. Sapin said, AP reported. “The question is to get started … as quickly as possible” on getting the International Monetary Fund’s aid program for Ukraine off the ground.

Russia belongs to the G-20 but not the G-7.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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