Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken was grilled on “Meet the Press” Sunday, with host David Gregory repeatedly asking why the Obama administration has been unable to exert more influence on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Since this started, the president and his top officials have issued it seems like line after line, and Putin has crossed them all,” Gregory said. “Why has this president, and the United States generally have so little influence over him?”

Blinken responded, contending President Barack Obama has put together a vigorous international response to Putin’s actions, made up of sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

Gregory wasn’t satisfied with that answer.

“I just want to challenge you on this point,” the NBC host said, interrupting Blinken. “My question is, we’ve said, ‘Don’t do this or else,’ and President Putin keeps doing it and more. So why doesn’t the president have a greater ability to influence what Putin does before he does it.”

Blinken responded by reiterating that the U.S. has isolated Russia diplomatically.

“But he’s not listening!”
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“But he’s not listening!” Gregory exclaimed. “He’s not listening and I think people watching this want to know why it is the administration can’t exert greater pressure on him to stop him before he does something.”

“The cost is already significant, first of all,” Blinken answered, noting it “is really a choice for the Russians to make.”

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