The relationship between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have reached the breaking point over the crisis in Ukraine.
Through a series of long telephone conversations, Obama and Putin have talked extensively behind the scenes about the fate of Crimea, with the United States repeatedly warning Russia against a grab for territory.
But Putin appears to be forging ahead, defying Obama’s calls for a diplomatic solution that would allow both sides to save face.
Now the U.S. and its allies are directly hitting some of Putin’s closest advisers with sanctions in a move intended to isolate and punish the Kremlin.
Foreign policy analysts warn the latest steps could be the beginning of a deep freeze in U.S.-Russian relations.
“This has the potential to end very badly,” said Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for a New American Security. “I don’t think this means war, but this could spell the beginning of a long period of extreme diplomatic alienation between the West and Russia.”
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