Mark Nuckols: Sanctions 'Symbolic,' Don't Affect Majority in Russia

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 02:29 PM

By Joe Battaglia

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Sanctions against Russia for its interference in Ukraine have fallen far short of having a meaningful impact, and a more measured approach is needed, says a Moscow-based economics professor.

Mark Nuckols, an American professor at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in Moscow, told John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that the penalties against Vladimir Putin and Russia — freezing financial assets under U.S. jurisdiction, making it difficult for sanctioned individuals to benefit from the international banking system, and blocking travel to the United States — "have been symbolic."

"I think the sanctions that we've seen so far have been diesel restrictions or asset freezes on Russian bureaucrats who, frankly, weren't planning to go to Disneyland in the first place and don't have U.S. bank accounts," Nuckols said Wednesday.

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As talk of further actions against Russia heat up, Nuckols said the potential effectiveness "depends on what kind of sanctions" are on the table.

"If there were sanctions against oil exports or exports of heavy machinery, this could very seriously affect the Russian economy and would have a real impact," he said.

Nuckols said that while there is some nervousness on the streets in Moscow over a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine, opposition to Putin is largely "laying low for the moment."

He added that financial realities in the country make it unlikely that recent plunges in the Russian market and devaluing of the ruble would influence the general public or the country's wealthiest class to challenge the Kremlin.

"Most Russians don't own any stocks, so they don't feel the impact from changes in the financial markets the way Americans who have investments and mutual funds are very sensitive to changes in the markets," Nuckols said.

"The oligarchs are people who made money thanks to the Russian state, so they are not likely to stand up to Putin and say, 'Look, the value of my investments are going down,' because they owe those investments to Putin in the first place."


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