News / Europe

    Will Sanctions Against Russia Work?

    Participants in a pro-Russian rally wave Russian flags in front of a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in Simferopol, March 17, 2014.
    Participants in a pro-Russian rally wave Russian flags in front of a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in Simferopol, March 17, 2014.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a treaty making Crimea a part of Russia in the wake of a weekend referendum in which residents of the Ukrainian peninsula voted overwhelmingly to join Russia. But many outside experts are raising questions about the legitimacy of the vote.

    The reported results of the referendum in Crimea were overwhelming: 97 percent of those voting cast their ballots to join Russia. The announced voter turnout was over 80 percent.

    Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said the referendum complied with international and democratic norms.

    Will Sanctions Against Russia Work?
    Will Sanctions Against Russia Work?i
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    Questions Around Crimean Vote

    But many analysts, including Robert Legvold with Columbia University, questioned the outcome.

    "If it was an honest vote and all groups had participated, I would have thought rather than an overwhelming vote, it would have been something like 52 to 53 percent, given the percentage makeup of the groups in Crimea,” said Legvold. “The fact that it’s 97-point-whatever and they report a turnout of 83 percent, creates some suspicion that it wasn’t just the shadow of the Russian military presence, but maybe even some manipulation.”

    Matthew Rojansky with the Wilson Center said the pro-Russian authorities in Crimea would not have held the referendum if they didn’t have a high confidence in the outcome.

    “My sense is this was a product of the times in which there has been a real build-up of fear mongering and the overt pressure of armed men - there is nothing quite like a gun in your face.”

    West Rejects Crimean Vote

    The United States and the European Union described the referendum as illegal and violating the Ukrainian constitution. Washington and Brussels reacted swiftly, imposing travel bans and trade sanctions on 28 Russian officials and four Ukrainians.

    The White House said those targeted are Putin’s “cronies.”

    “The people that Putin relies on, really relies on, are close enough to him that they are prepared to lose, they are easily prepared to suffer the consequences of those individual sanctions," said Matthew Rojansky.  "And, second, Putin has specifically helped them to limit the consequences of those individual sanctions.”

    Rojansky said over the last year and a half, Putin urged senior Russian officials to divest themselves from their international holdings - in other words, bring their wealth back to Russia.

    “Anybody who has complied with him is sitting pretty and doesn’t have to worry about the international sanctions," he said. "And anyone who didn’t - well, it’s their problem; he can cut them loose.”

    Sanctions Not Strong Enough

    Rojansky believes the current sanctions are not strong enough considering that Russia has invaded another country. U.S. officials have made clear more sanctions will come if Putin continues to move against Ukraine.

    “I don’t think Putin believes us. I don’t think he thinks we actually have the guts to impose really biting sanctions on, for example, the energy sector,” said Rojansky. “I think he just distrusts our resolve because we haven’t made it clear that we are willing to pay the pain on our side.”

    Robert Legvold said stronger sanctions could have a negative on the global economy.

    “Every step that escalates the penalty or the punishment also escalates the cost to those inflicting them, imposing the sanctions,” he said.

    Analysts say it will be very difficult - if not impossible - to reverse what has happened in Crimea. Experts also say it will be interesting to see how far the United States and its Western allies are willing to go to punish Russia for its actions.

    Andre de Nesnera

    Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Not Again from: Canada
    March 19, 2014 10:10 AM
    The weak regime of sanctions, imposed on Russia for changing the borders of Ukraine and annexing Crimea, are an invitation to further expansionism; and in the end to a massive confrontation.

    Russia's claim to the Ukraine's Crimea region, based on a 300 yr history, would not trump a clain to most of central and Eastern Siberia by China, given that China held most of Siberia for over 4000 yrs; in addition, most of Siberia was always inhabited by Chinese and Asian people, not Russian slavs; consequently China not only would trump a 300 yr claim by far, but its claim would add the fact that it was the ancestral homeland of the Chinese people, which the slavs can't claim in Siberia nor in Crimea.

    So once we get into an issue of historical relevance, changing of borders, without a clear ancestral claim that goes back a few milenia, is not really a good way to deal with borders. Absolutely, only ancestral peoples can claim ancestral rights. What Putin did, has the potential to destabilize any claims Russia has to justify its holdings on central and Eastern Siberia. So it is a very bad and destabilizing precedent.
    In Response

    by: Dude
    March 21, 2014 11:10 AM
    Lol dude Chinese never lived in SiberiaIt is the Mongols Every Asian that lives in Siberia is from Mongol descent

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.