Staunton, April 7 – The new sanctions the US has announced will hurt the Russian oligarchs but they will not lead to a conspiracy against Putin because “the main source of their incomes is in Russia and they are completely dependent on the orders of the president,” Liliya Shevtsova says.
And they haven’t and won’t lead to a “significant change of policy” by Vladimir Putin who can be counted on to come up with some “symmetrical or asymmetrical response in order to show that ‘We aren’t surrendering!’” the prominent Russian analyst says (liga.net/politics/interview/liliya-shevtsova-kreml-ne-gotov-idti-na-popyatnuyu).
But that does not mean they are unimportant or will not achieve other goals including unifying the West, Shevtsova says. “The American administration is still obviously searching for its own approach to the formation of a sanctions package regarding Russia and for a mechanism of implementing it.”
This search is affected, she suggests, by the knowledge and judgment of American officials and experts about the resources of the Russian elite, the role of its members in the Putin system, the desire to avoid any negative impact of sanctions on the American establishment, and an effort to form a united front with Europe rather than go it entirely alone.
The list of individuals and companies on the latest sanctions list, whose release was not unexpected, shows “how Washington understands the structure and mechanisms of power in Russia.” Some who were not included may very well be in the future, making a final judgment problematic.
Indeed, Shevtsova continues, one must keep in mind that at times the expectation of future actions may play a bigger role than any actions themselves, especially as Putin can be counted on to make up for any losses those on this list incur as a result.
The Russian analyst rejects suggestions that Washington has changed its focus from seeking to hurt the Russian economy by limiting its access to resources to going after members close to Putin in hopes of sparking resistance to him within the Russian elite or even regime change. She says that up to now she doesn’t see any actions that suggest this.
In brief, Shevtsova concludes, it is still not entirely clear what Washington hopes to achieve: contain Moscow, take revenge, force Moscow to compromise or achieve Western unity. “All these goals presuppose different sanctions packages.” But there is still no unity in the West on which one is paramount.