Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized talk of possible sanctions against Russia are not a "threat" or meant in a "personal way" towards Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday in a London press conference:
JOHN KERRY: We hope President Putin will recognize that none of what we’re saying is meant as a threat, it’s not meant in a personal way. It is meant as a matter of respect for the international, multilateral structure that we have lived by since World War II, and for the standards of behavior about annexation, about succession, about independence, and how countries come about it.
Kerry's non-confrontational words appear to reinforce a report from The Daily Beast's Josh Rogin which characterized the White House as "bracing" for the possibility of Russian retaliation to economic sanctions.
Former Bush administration official Elliott Abrams slammed the Obama administration earlier on Fox News for being "afraid" of Putin, arguing the Russian president lacks the ability to inflict significant damage on American interests: