March 04, 2014

"Restore Russia to its former great power status?"

Stanford News 'America and Europe need to develop a coherent message on what the Ukraine means to the West," said Kathryn Stoner, a senior fellow with Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.' By Clifton B. Parker

'But right now, the Western powers do not have a lot of options to rein in a suddenly expansionistic Russia. "We don't have a huge amount of leverage," she said.

'Suspending planning for the G-8 meeting in Sochi in June was a good first step, according to Stoner. "Beyond this, it is reasonable to consider kicking Russia out of the G-8 completely, or at least downgrading the status of their membership to the G-20. Travel bans and asset freezes for Russian officials and business people would be the next step."

'Most important, Stoner said, is for America and Europe to clearly articulate what the Ukrainian issue means to the West.

'"Russia is too prone to viewing any support we may give to Ukraine (or Georgia before it in 2008) as us wanting to undermine Russian power and interests. There is a tendency within Russian decision-making circles that we are imperialistic inherently and they are merely protecting what is rightfully in their sphere of interest."

'However, Stoner said, America does not want to "own" Ukraine or even use it as a bulwark against Russian expansionism. Rather, the United States is concerned solely about the rights of sovereign nations that have not acted aggressively toward their own citizens or those of other countries.

'"We need to articulate more clearly to Putin that Russia is risking longer term foreign investment opportunities from the U.S. and Europe that his country pretty badly needs," she said.

'Stoner noted that the Russian economy is not booming along in the same way it did between 2000 and 2008 when it grew 8 percent a year on average and Russians' real incomes tripled. In 2013, it grew only 1.5 percent and is projected to grow only about 2 percent this year.

'"It is not an innovation economy and without investment it will continue to fall behind. Ill-considered military incursions don't tend to sit well with investors. We need to get Putin to understand that continuing this aggression with Ukraine will hurt Russia in the longer term," she said.'

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