The Magazine

Punishing Russia

A how-to guide.

Sep 15, 2008, Vol. 14, No. 01 • By GARY SCHMITT
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Russia does have resources we need, but a tit-for-tat response can only increase the underlying fragility of the Russian economy and is not sustainable for any length of time. Unlike the Soviet Union, today's Russia cannot simply hunker down in a totalitarian snit.

Moscow can also be squeezed by the threat of moving the 2014 winter Olympic games from Sochi, Russia, to some other site. There is no need to boycott the games since there is still plenty of time to find an alternative location. If nothing else, an embarrassment of this sort would put a big wet cloth over Putin's neofascist, strongman strut that the world now bends to Russia.

In short, making Moscow pay a price for its actions--and potentially creating divisions within its leadership as a result--is not impossible, nor does it necessarily involve a hard-power show of force. There are plenty of soft-power tools at hand around which a transatlantic approach can be fashioned. And, indeed, if Washington and Europe want to avoid having to resort to more drastic measures down the road, it is important to use these and other points of leverage sooner than later.

Gary Schmitt is director of the program on advanced strategic studies at the American Enterprise Institute.