: To deter Putin, how about a total ban on Russian energy?

15:03 Oct. 27, 2016

To deter Putin, how about a total ban on Russian energy?

Russian President Vladimir Putin grimaces as he attends the Business Russia Congress in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016 (AP photo)

Putin can't afford to cut pensions, salaries and social subsidies to continue financing his hybrid wars

The Newsweek has published an opinion piece on what should be done about an increasingly aggressive Russia.

The past few weeks have brought more evidence of Moscow's moves away from international norms and law. From continued denials of complicity in the MH17 tragedy and the bombing of a humanitarian convoy in Syria to Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent exit from the Nuclear Security Pact with the United States, Russia's behavior is diverging further from the rules-based consensus of the post–Cold War world. This is in spite of Western sanctions that were introduced against Moscow in 2014.

Indeed, these moderate limitations on selling certain goods and services to Russia as well as on the freedom of movement of some Russians seem to have emboldened Putin.

With a new debate underway in the EU and United States on the future of the sanctions regime, there may now be a window of opportunity for significantly expanding economic measures, including financial or personal sanctions, in order to bring Russia back from the brink of military escalation.

The West has powerful non-military tools for dealing with a belligerent Russia, given Moscow's high reliance on energy exports. But increased sanctions need to be predicated on a clear metric of what they are intended to achieve.

Often discussions of these issues refer to lessons learned from earlier embargoes against other countries. What was the relative effectiveness of trade and other limitations in altering political behavior?

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