We should have lifted sanctions against Russia about five years ago, threatening to bring them back if they cross the line of contact in Eastern Ukraine (which everyone seems to think they will, but Russian troops apparently haven’t done that yet).
Appeasement is underrated. The least-bad conceivable policy today may be to offer to lift the existing sanctions if Russia keeps to its side of the line of contact. I don’t say this as any kind of friend of Putin, but because the current policy isn’t working.
Russia’s spy chief, Sergei Naryshkin, got in trouble during Putin’s reality show for not showing firm enough support and giving away the plot to the next episode. After being unsettled by Putin on TV, he says “I support the proposal to incorporate the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics into the Russian Federation.”
Putin of course reminded him that they weren’t discussing that.
With Nordstream cancelled, the NATO countries are going to help Germany source their natural gas needs from elsewhere, right? It would probably wind up being more expensive than following through with the original plan. I expect the United States will eat the added cost to make it easier for Germany.
Well, as I said, it was a reality show. It’s not like it wasn’t a predictable plot at that point.
Edited to add: After all, who in their right mind would have an actual cabinet meeting on TV? Of course, who in their right mind would think military conquest is preferable to economic conquest in this day and age?
Maybe. But there is a huge (well, for Russia) new deal between Russia and China for energy, opening up new markets for their gas and oil as well as coal. It’s not going to be instant, but Putin et al have been creating a war chest for some time now, so they have quite a bit of reserve to play with if they get cut off. I’m fairly sure other markets will also open up between China and Russia if/when the west imposes really biting sanctions.
As for dollars, that kind of segues into the banking system, and, again, China and Russia have already been making moves in this direction, as both of them really want to be off any system that the US controls. Again, this won’t be instant, but I think both countries are moving towards this already.
It remains to be seen if this will work out financially, but it’s not a slam dunk…either way…for Russia. And my WAG is that if Russia really pushes this further than they have already (something I think is inevitable at this point), it’s going to get more restrictive…and dangerous.
Putin is now saying he will target “sensitive” US assets as part of a “painful” response.
What might he be referring to? Oil and gas are fungible, and I doubt that’s what he’s referring to. Do we really have any other important financial relationships with Russia? I think we can all do without their caviar, and I can’t think of anything else that the ordinary American consumes that is made in Russia.
ETA. AFAIK oil and gas were already part of the calculation. The vodka drinkers can just switch to non-Russian brands or to some other kind of liquor.
I have no idea if that’s what he’s referring to, but Russia possibly has the capacity to undermine US sanctions on other countries, e.g. Iran and NK.
One of the problems with the sanctions approach is that eventually you end up sanctioning so many countries that they can gang up on you. The US also has issues with China, which is a big heavyweight on its own.
There’s a balancing act, and getting overly focused on any one particular confrontation can miss the big picture.
Cyber attacks would be my WAG. They are threatening to start a new round of intensive cyber attacks against our political and infrastructure systems. Imports to the US are minor to the point of being so small as to go unnoticed if Russia tried a direct tit for tat, so they must mean something asymmetric, and, basically, short of firing shots, Russia is all about cyber attack capabilities, especially since they have any number of quasi-state or even independent hacker groups to do this sort of thing.
Did the Russian government say it would sanction or seize financial interests? The articles include only short quotes from the actual government statement. Hacking key systems (banks, utilities, transportation, etc.) sounds “sensitive” and “painful” and moreover right up Russia’s alley.
They are already doing that, of course, and so is China. They could ramp it up, I suppose, but it’s not like this would be something new.
WRT sanctions, it’s all about who you can get to impose them. On its own, US sanctions can be painful, but, really, it’s about other US allies and economic partners and if we can get them to also impose (and actually implement and sustain) sanctions. Can we? In this case, perhaps. It really will hinge on what China does, both what they say and what they actually do, as well as our European friends (with emphasis on what they do, not what they necessarily say).