Russia's Vladimir Putin is officially banned from the upcoming G-7 meeting of world leaders in Germany next week, it was announced this weekend, in response to presiding over the invasion and ongoing occupation of Ukraine.
While the Russian President remains a central player in international affairs, including the U.S.-led nuclear talks with Iran, Western leaders are resorting to a wide variety of measures to try to isolate Putin while the crisis in Ukraine persists.
Yet avoiding Russia and Putin is challenging, especially for those with close geographic and economic ties to the communist country. Just last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Moscow for talks with Putin while Putin and British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke by telephone in recent days to arrange talks aimed at ending Syria's civil war.
U.S. officials say that outreach to Putin on areas of needed cooperation should not be seen as a sign that the West has accepted the country's invasion of Ukraine.
"It makes sense to cooperate where there is a clear mutual interest as long as you're not being asked to back off matters of principle that matter to the security and well-being of your country and your allies and your friends," Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday.
So while the it may be difficult to pull all diplomatic engagement, economic pressure is proving very effective. The ruble went into dramatic freefall last year due to both falling oil prices and the West's economic penalties. Russia's economy is the shakiest its been since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Still, its a delicate balance, as sanctions can only go so far and political isolation isn't practical.
Heather Conley, a Europe expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, feels this is the case.
"We're really stuck," she said. "Mr. Putin is not going to come to his senses. This is a long-term challenge."