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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid