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Foreign relations expert weighs in on whether sanctions can actually stop Russia's invasion of Ukraine

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Posted at 10:07 AM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 13:15:48-04

As the U.S. continues with efforts to help the people of Ukraine and stop the Russian invasion, the word, "sanction" has come up a lot.

The White House announced a new round of sanctions aimed at a key commercial bank and the Russian oligarch who leads it.

Most sanctions have been on Russians with financial power.

But as the U.S. and other countries impose sanctions, you may be wondering what they've actually done as Russia isn't pulling out of Ukraine.

“The overall lack of accountability that leaders in Russia have toward their own people, is likely to make the sanctions less than effective at least, certainly not as effective as we wish they would be,” said Pierre Asselin, a foreign relations history professor at San Diego State University.

He says, in a way, sanctions up until now are more symbolic than anything else.

Essentially, just sending a message to Russia that the world isn’t happy with what’s happening.

Over time, Asselin says sanctions could start to add up and put more pressure on Russia. But with the war dragging on, getting to that point would make the global impacts even worse.

Meanwhile, European countries are struggling to come up with a plan for a meaningful sanction to stop buying oil and gas from Russia.

Experts estimate the EU pays Russia $850 million a day for energy.

“They would have to be willing to hurt themselves and their own people, as much as they would hurt Russia and it's and its people. And I don't think that the situation is considered to be serious enough again from the perspective of these European states,” Asselin said.

He says the EU does have a plan to become more independent for energy production, but that has a timeline of 2030.

In the meantime, Assalin predicts the U.S. will keep ordering similar sanctions on Russia.