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Nina L. Khrushcheva
Says More…

This week in Say More, PS talks with Nina L. Khrushcheva, Professor of International Affairs at The New School.

Project Syndicate: As the Ukraine war hit the two-year mark, and following Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s death in prison, the United States and the European Union have piled new sanctions onto Russia. But with Vladimir Putin preparing Russians for “permanent war,” can sanctions deter him? Will the West’s reaction to Navalny’s death affect next week’s presidential election in any meaningful way?

NLK: As troubled as many Russians are by Navalny’s death, it has so far not galvanized any notable popular response. While it could yet trigger some unrest – such events can be difficult to predict, especially in Russia – there is little reason to believe that the upcoming “elections” (if you can even call them that at this point) will be disrupted. If the threat of harsh punishment in Putin’s Stalinesque state is not enough to deter any agitation, the security forces – which will be deployed in huge numbers around voting time – will swiftly quell it. Whatever the details of the journey, the destination is the same: more President Putin.

As for sanctions, the West’s focus on them has always been misguided. They were not going to deter him when he launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago, and they will not deter him now. Sanctions might even strengthen Putin’s position at home: because sanctions do far more harm to ordinary Russians than to those in the Kremlin, they can be used to reinforce Putin’s narrative that the West is at war against Russia and will go to extreme lengths to destroy it.