The administration is playing hardball with the Russians. Among other tough measures, it has, as Peter Baker of the New York Times reports:

… pressured the chief executives of some of America’s largest energy, financial and industrial corporations into canceling plans to attend an international economic forum in Russia to be hosted by President Vladimir V. Putin this month, the latest effort to isolate Moscow in retaliation for its intervention in Ukraine.

The top executives of such giants as Alcoa, Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo, Morgan Stanley, ConocoPhillips and other multinational companies with business in Russia have either pulled out of the conference or plan to do so after an intensive lobbying campaign by President Obama’s advisers. Corporate officials predicted that nearly every American C.E.O. will now skip the forum in St. Petersburg.

The executives doubtless needed to be reminded, in a friendly sort of way, of their patriotic duties. No mention, necessary, of U.S. Justice Department and its capabilities. So:

“They’ve basically been saying, ‘We’re not telling you what to do, but it wouldn’t look good,’ ” said an executive at one of the companies who received such a call, and who, like others, declined to be named to avoid offending either side in the dispute.

Hard to know which is more dispiriting. The calls, themselves, or the necessity of making them. “Either side,” indeed.

Who knew Goldman Sachs sold rope.

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