On Tuesday, April 15, the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University hosted the debate “Putin’s Russia: Time for Containment?” at the Burke Theater at the Navy Memorial in Washington.
The debate centered on the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, Putin’s actions, and the right Western response to them. Although Western democracies are united in condemning Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, its destabilizing efforts in Eastern Europe, and the annexation of Crimea, there is no consensus regarding the appropriate policy to handle the situation. Supporters of containment argue that this is the only way to stop Putin, while critics say that the United States can’t go it alone in fashioning an effective policy response.
THE TAKE AWAY:
Key Points Made in Support of Containing Russia:
Key Points Made Against Containing Russia:
Anders Åslund argued that the United States should impose much tougher sanctions on Russia, especially financial sanctions. As the US economy is nearly ten times larger than the Russian economy, and U.S.-Russian economic and trade relations are relatively insignificant, the negative economic impact on Americans would be very limited.
David J. Kramer recommended hard sanctions on Russian state-owned enterprises, banks, and individuals. He also stressed that we must refuse to recognize Crimea’s annexation by Russia, just as we did with the Baltic States’ incorporation into the Soviet Union. Treating Crimea as if it were lost would be a huge mistake and could have serious repercussions for the Baltic region’s future. He urged reassuring and preventive military deployments to NATO Allies near Ukraine.
Andrew S. Weiss predicted that the crisis in Ukraine will go on for a long time and will remain extremely complicated. He argued that while dialog and engagement are by no means magic bullets, taking them out of consideration and declaring that there is no room for a diplomatic solution would be a grave mistake.
Thomas Graham argued that it is necessary to open up channels of discussion and engagement and to resolve the crisis diplomatically, finding a way to advance U.S. interests.
WHAT IS YOUR DECISION?
President of Freedom House
Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics
Managing Director of Kissinger Associates, Inc
Vice President for Studies at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter