Russia's President Vladimir Putin takes part in a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the Ala-Archa state residence in Bishkek, on September 13, 2013. Putin said today the global community should welcome Syria's decision to join a ban on chemical weapons, saying it shows the 'serious intentions' of Damascus.
With the Russian annexation of Crimea complete, tensions in Eastern Europe are high. The Russian military has overtaken Ukrainian military bases in Crimea and has bolstered its presence along the Ukrainian border.
Sanctions against politicians and threats of economic sanctions have had little effect on the Russian government. Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s insistence that Russia has no plans to invade other parts of Ukraine or other Russian speaking nations, NATO, the U.S., and the E.U. have vocalized concern that certain pro-Russia areas may be absorbed into the Russian Federation.
One area of particular interest is Transnistria, a region within Moldova with pro-Russia tendencies and a nearby Russian military presence. Comparisons to Cold War tensions have inspired dialogue about reassessing diplomatic relationships even as experts dismiss the threat of violence.
How will things proceed for Russia? What is the future of U.S./Russia diplomacy? Will the threat of greater sanctions keep Russia from expanding?
Stephen Sestanovich, George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; former U.S. ambassador-at-large for independent states of the former Soviet Union (1997-2001); author of Maximalist: America in the World from Truman to Obama (Knopf 2014)
Nina Tumarkin, professor of history at Wellesley College