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The Bush administration, after considerable internal debate, has decided not to take direct punitive action against Russia for its conflict with Georgia, concluding that it has little leverage if it acts unilaterally and that it would be better off pressing for a chorus of international criticism to be led by Europe.
In recent interviews, senior administration officials said the White House had concluded that American punishments like economic sanctions or blocking Russia from world trade groups would only backfire, deepening Russia’s intransigence and allowing the Kremlin to narrow the regional and global implications of its invasion of Georgia to an old-fashioned Washington-Moscow dispute.
Even as they vowed to work with allies, administration officials conceded that they wished the European Union had been willing to take firmer action than issuing tepid statements criticizing Russia’s conduct.