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Here’s How to Think About Russia and the Ukraine Crisis

•, By Daniel Larison
 The Obama administration has imposed economic sanctions on Russian officials, and Russia has been suspended from the G-8. Some in the U.S. are calling for stronger punitive measures. Is this a bad idea?

 Some punitive measures, including the targeted sanctions that have already been applied, may serve a limited purpose in expressing U.S. and European disapproval of the seizure and annexation of Crimea. Stronger measures, such as sector-wide sanctions on Russian finance, have the potential to be very damaging to Europe, Russia, and the global economy as a whole without effectively discouraging further Russian interventions in Ukraine.

There is not much evidence from past sanctions regimes that a regime can be coerced into giving up something that it considers to be very valuable, and based on Russian behavior over the last month there is every reason to think that it isn’t going to give up Crimea after having gone to such lengths to acquire it. Insofar as sanctions against Russia increase tensions, they make it more difficult to de-escalate the crisis, and the more expansive and punishing these sanctions are, the worse these tensions are likely to become.

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