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Putin in a Ukrainian pickle

A young man points at a caricature of Russian President Vladimir Putin at an open-air exhibition by Ukrainian cartoonist, architect and journalist Oleh Smal, in the center of Kiev on July 29, 2014Punitive sanctions and the calling into question of a key arms control treaty with Washington have ratcheted up pressure on Russia, leaving President Vladimir Putin few palatable options to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, analysts say. Putin might have thought he could get away with keeping the conflict simmering with a divided Europe wary of imposing tough sanctions that could plunge its own economy back into recession. For the first time, the sanctions imposed by Brussels and Washington last week apply to entire sectors, impeding access to Western capital markets and technology needed to develop new oil and gas fields, as well as an arms sales ban. Adam Slater, senior economist at Oxford Economics, said that pulling back from Ukraine would appear the economically rational thing for Russia to do, but this is by no means guaranteed to happen.

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