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Two experts warn US: ‘Sanctions don’t work on Russia’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman takes off her mask to speak on the situation in Afghanistan at the State Department in Washington, DC, US, August 18, 2021. (Reuters photo)

Two international experts have warned the United States that imposing sanctions on Russia may not be helpful to force Moscow to agree with American terms and conditions over Ukraine.

“Sanctions don’t work on Russia,” Tony Brenton, a former British ambassador to Russia, said on Tuesday. “Russia just becomes even more obdurate.”

In response, he added, the West also gets more stubborn. “And you’re that little bit closer to a really, very dangerous security confrontation,” he told CNBC News.

Meanwhile, Angela Stent, director emerita of Georgetown University’s Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies, told CNBC News that the threat of sanctions has never worked against Russia.

She said that the proposed punitive measures are “pretty comprehensive,” which would affect technology exports and banks’ access to the international financial system, but warned that may not put Russia off.

“Those have all been explicitly now talked about in the US,” she said. “That doesn’t seem to have deterred Russia at all.”

Stent said that if Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to invade Ukraine, “I’m not sure that the prospect of those sanctions is going to deter him.”

On Monday, the US State Department said the US and Russia have a better understanding of each other's concerns following a meeting between the two sides in the Swiss city of Geneva, but then threatened Moscow with “financial sanctions” and other “costs” if it launches any military action in neighboring Ukraine.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke with reporters after the conclusion of eight hours of talks with Russian officials in Geneva.

“If Russia stays at the table and takes concrete steps to deescalate tensions, we believe we can achieve progress,” said Sherman, the number two diplomat in the State Department.

She reiterated potential actions that Washington and its allies are prepared to take if Russia launches an invasion, despite the fact that Moscow has rejected Washington’s allegations of preparing to invade the neighboring country.

“Those costs will include financial sanctions, and it's been reported those sanctions will include key financial institutions, export controls that target industries; enhancements of NATO force posture on ally territory; and increased security assistance to Ukraine,” Sherman said.

The Russian government last month made demands on NATO and Ukraine about the future of their relationship. Moscow demanded the Western military alliance deny Ukraine membership to NATO and to roll back its military deployments.

Moscow also proposed that the US not establish any military bases in former Soviet states that are not part of NATO, nor develop a bilateral military alliance with them.


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