Why the United States might not be able to deter Russia with sanctions

Imposing sanctions on Russia might not help resolve tensions with the United States over Ukraine, two experts said Tuesday.

“Sanctions do not work against Russia,” said Tony Brenton, former British ambassador to Russia. “Russia is getting even more stubborn.”

In response, the West is also becoming more stubborn, he added. “And you’re a little closer to a really, very dangerous security showdown,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia”.

Angela Stent, director emeritus of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University, also told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” that the threat of sanctions has not deterred Russia.

This despite the fact that the proposed punitive measures are “fairly comprehensive”, she said, affecting technology exports and banks’ access to the international financial system.

“These have all been explicitly mentioned in the United States,” she said. “It doesn’t seem to have deterred Russia at all.”

If Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to invade Ukraine, “I’m not sure the prospect of these sanctions will deter him,” Stent added.

Russian troops gathered on the border near Ukraine, raising fears of a repeat of the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea by Moscow in 2014. Russia has denied such claims, saying it had the right to place troops wherever it sees fit on its own territory.

Stent said a Russian invasion of Ukraine could still happen. “Let’s say, 50-50 for now,” she said, adding that it could be a “more limited invasion” rather than a massive one.

“This danger is still there,” she said.

The United States and Russia held talks in Geneva on Monday, and talks are expected to continue between the Russian Council and NATO in Brussels on Wednesday, followed by a session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation on Thursday. in Europe in Vienna.

Brenton, the former UK ambassador, said Russia and the US wanted to avoid a military confrontation. He said Russia is weaker and “just wants what it sees as its interests taken care of.”

US President Joe Biden sees China, not Russia, as the “essential security challenge for the United States”.

“Getting entangled in a major confrontation with Russia actually makes relations with China much more complicated,” he said.

Christi C. Elwood