State Dept Still Thinks Sanctions Are 'Most Effective Tool' For Dealing With Russia

The State Department maintained Thursday that sanctions are the best way to deal with Russian aggression in Ukraine, despite a reporter pointing out that, by the State Department's own estimation, Russia has only escalated its actions in Ukraine since the United States increased sanctions.

Reuters reporter Arshad Mohammed posed the apparent contradiction to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki: "If anything it -- by your own words, they have escalated their aggression over time. What makes you think that any level of economic sanctions is going to get Russia to change its mind on invading and supporting separatists in Ukraine?"

"Well, Arshad, it’s hard for us to predict what President Putin will do," Psaki replied, expressing the hope that the sanctions will eventually convince Putin to deescalate.

"But given that it hasn't worked so far, why should it work in the future?" Mohammed pressed her.

Psaki conceded that "there has been ups and downs in this process."

"We think that this is the most effective tool - the best tool," she told him. "A military solution is not what we think is the appropriate approach, and so we're taking every tool we can to see if we can reach a conclusion here through diplomatic means."