- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A top Treasury Department official said Wednesday that the Obama administration is poised to harden economic sanctions against Russia if the government of President Vladimir Putin continues its aggression in Eastern Europe.

David S. Cohen, Treasury’s under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Mr. Obama plans to make the case Wednesday in Belgium for a united response from the United States and Europe to the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

Mr. Cohen said Mr. Obama will also look to set up “very powerful sanctions that are ready to go if the Russian’s continue to escalate the situation” and that they could be mirrored after the sanctions that have been levied against Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

“We are prepared, if necessary, to essentially run the same play with respect to the Russian financial sector as we have with the Iranian financial sector,” Mr. Cohen said.

“Nobody wants to go there,” he said. “What we are looking for is a political resolution here, a de-escalation, but the president is very clear that if the Russians continue to escalate the situation, there will be much more severe costs to be paid by the Russians for doing so.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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