To Succeed In Pushing Putin Back, Europe And US Need to Clearly Define Their Goals

Jan Techau of the European arm of the Carnegie Foundation believes the crisis in Ukraine represents a defining moment for the future of the European Union, which has to-date failed to coalesce behind a unified strategy in dealing with Russia. In short, the crisis has exposed “Europe’s lack of strategy in three decisive fields: its Eastern neighborhood, Russia, and security and defense,” which makes it a “test like none before.”

Russia should not be seen as a potential ally, nor should Europe shy away from handling it with not-so-kid gloves. In fact, Techau writes, the EU should be firm with Russia.

“From trade disputes to energy to foreign policy, this has been proven again and again. Weakness invites Russia’s disdain and aggression. Robustness creates a constructive atmosphere. Is the West, in particular Europe, ready for this? It does not look like it. There is a rift between the United States and the EU, but, more importantly, there is also one among the EU’s 28 member states. Germany, again, is the swing state. Should Berlin come around, Europe could come around too,” advises Techau.

A clarity of purpose and a clear set of goals will be crucial to the success of any sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and EU argues Meghan O’Sullivan of The Daily Beast.

O’Sullivan asserts that history shows that sanctions need be part of a multilateral framework, with clearly defined goals and are a key component of a broader strategy.

“Moreover, sanctions that seek to address issues that are not existential to the regime in question, or have a long period of time to produce results, are also more likely to bear fruit from the perspective of those imposing them. What do these general lessons suggest about the likelihood of success of the current sanctions against Russia? Sadly, the recent measures put in place constitute a sanctions regime that embodies many of the qualities we see in unsuccessful sanctions attempts,” she writes.

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Dan Coats of Indiana suggests the US impose sanctions on Rosoboronexport, the official state-owned arms-export agency of Russia with which the US has a $1.1 contract to purchase weapons.

Coats objects in particular to Rosoboronexport’s commitment to provide Syria with S-300 advanced anti-aircraft missiles; and 36 Yakovlev Yak-130 jets, “even as the Syrian air force continues to bomb civilian targets.” The company, he adds, was sanctioned in 2007 by the US Congress for its role in developing Iran’s nuclear capability.

“Taking steps to meaningfully obstruct this agency’s work and the revenue it provides the Russian state is among the most effective ways the United States can condemn Putin’s recent aggression,” contends the senator, who adds that considering Russia’s hostile actions in western Ukraine, “we must send the message that there will be no more business as usual.”

The Obama administration also has threatened additional sanctions if Russia improperly inserts itself in next month’s Ukrainian elections.

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