EU Sanctions Against Russia a Historic Moment

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UC Riverside political scientist Paul D’Anieri available to comment on response to events in Europe, Russia and Ukraine

By Bettye Miller on July 30, 2014

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UCR Provost Paul D'Anieri says EU sanctions against Russia will be regarded as a turning point in 21st century geopolitics.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The imposition of economic sanctions against Russia by the European Union is so significant that historians 50 years from now will point to this week as a turning point in 21st century geopolitics, according to Paul D’Anieri, provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of California, Riverside. D’Anieri compared recent events to those in the late 1940s – such as the rigging of Polish elections in 1947 and the Berlin blockade in 1948 – that were seen as kicking off the Cold War.

“What is significant is the statement by Europe to Russia that says, ‘You are no longer part of the club,” he said. “It says that, pushed far enough, Europe will respond.”

D’Anieri, a political scientist whose research focuses on post-Soviet affairs with a focus on Ukraine, said the EU sanctions reflect a significant change in public opinion in Europe – and among European elites – since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17. Pro-Russian rebels are believed to be responsible.

He is available to speak with journalists. Contact him via UCR Media Relations at (951) 827-6397.

Impact of sanctions: “Will these sanctions create so much pressure that President Vladimir Putin says, ‘I have to do something to relieve the pain?’ Probably not. The expectation has to be not that these sanctions are going to compel him to change his behavior in the short term, but  that over the long term it raises the cost of certain kinds of behavior so it changes the calculus. The big question is what Europe will do with new things that come down the road. People are starting to talk about moving the 2018 World Cup out of Russia. That kind of thing would have a big impact.”

The tendency is going to be tit for tat. The Russians have already said that for health reasons they will limit the import of fruits and vegetables from Poland.

What it will take to end the conflict: “The U.S. has to accept that it cannot compel Russia to do things it does not want to do in a place that is next door to Russia and far from the U.S. We can raise the costs, but we cannot compel a change in policy. The hard truth is that for there to be a solution of the conflict in Ukraine, Putin has to get something. The question is, what is he going to get? Will removing the sanctions be enough? I think it’s important that we’ve done what we’ve done, but it’s going to take much more than this, probably much more than we’re willing or able to do to get them to change course.”

Putin’s 2005 statement that the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”: “Most Russian leaders would say that the collapse of the Soviet Union unbalanced influence in the world and led to an era of American hegemony that had all sorts of negative consequences for everybody else. But the Cold War itself had enormous negative consequence, including the constant threat of nuclear annihilation, and the Soviet Union itself denied freedom and opportunity to its own people and to most of Eastern Europe.”

Russian pride: With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia “went from being feared and respected and a player, where no international issue could be solved without the Soviet Union, to being irrelevant. Now they are trying to get back to where you can’t solve things without their participation, and in that part of the world, that’s largely true.”

UC Riverside has a broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub that is available for live or taped interviews, and ISDN for radio interviews. For more information, call (951) 827-6397.

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