January 07, 2022

What It Will Take to Deter Russia

By Jim Townsend

Nearly eight years after Russia invaded Ukraine and illegally annexed Crimea, triggering a raft of international sanctions, the United States and its allies find themselves again trying to figure out how to deter Moscow from menacing Ukraine—if not launching a full-scale invasion—in hopes of gaining new Western concessions. Talks between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have begun in earnest, with Putin putting forth maximalist demands that could become either the starting point for protracted negotiations that meet somewhere in the middle or, if left unmet, the pretext for a major escalation in the ongoing conflict.

Economic sanctions alone, no matter how personally painful they may be to Putin and his cronies, will not be enough

U.S. and European leaders have warned Putin publicly and privately that should he again launch military forces into Ukraine, they will not hesitate to expand sanctions against Russia. U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reported that during a two-hour videoconference with Putin on December 7, Biden warned the Russian leader that “things we did not do in 2014 we are prepared to do now.” Biden’s threat to his Russian interlocutors left little room for misunderstanding.

Yet economic sanctions alone, no matter how personally painful they may be to Putin and his cronies, will not be enough to prevent the Kremlin from using tactics that have proved effective in the past.

Read the full article from Foreign Affairs.

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