Sanctions fatigue is next obstacle in confronting Putin

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Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering digital currencies, the European Union and France. Previously, he was a reporter for Reuters and Forbes.

The momentum behind Western sanctions against Vladimir Putin is flagging. Even as the European Union toasts its toughest restrictions yet against the Russian war machine — including a partial ban on oil imports — concessions are mounting, from exempting pipeline crude to removing Putin’s favorite cleric from the sanctions list.

Hungary’s Viktor Orban, an admirer of Putin, is clearly playing a big role in splintering the united front. But the risk of fatigue and waning morale goes well beyond Budapest. The cost of hitting Putin where it hurts — energy — is preying on many leaders’ minds at a time of high inflation and economic slowdown, as is the grim sight of Russia’s advance regaining momentum after 100 days of fighting.

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