Ian Bremmer, geopolitical expert and president of the Eurasia Group, doesn’t believe sanctions against Russia will make much of a difference at all, telling NPR’s Scott Simon on Saturday that despite the possibility of adverse effects on the Russian economy, Moscow sees Ukraine as much more important to their interests.
“To be very straightforward about it,” Bremmer told NPR, “There’s no amount of economic damage the U.S. and Europe is going to do to Russia that comes remotely close to their perception of how important Ukraine is to them, and that’s the problem.”
Following many warnings, the U.S. slapped sanctions against Russian officials, banks, and individuals after the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea. Russia responded in kind, hitting back with sanctions against a number of U.S. political leaders.
This tit-for-tat has had an effect on markets, but it hasn’t changed the situation on the ground in Crimea. Part of the reason is that, despite the tough talk from the Obama administration, the U.S. needs Russia in its upcoming diplomatic talks with Iran.
“If you’re Putin and you think you’re going to be a target of sanctions, the most obvious leverage is in the Iranian file, where Russian cooperation is so important,” Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, told The New York Times on Thursday.
Bremmer did say there was at least “one major impact” of the sanctions to hit a select few Russian oligarchs: “We will see capital flight from Russian oligarchs across the board out of the United States and out of Europe, so that’s fairly significant.”
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