University at Albany

(Above) CNN Newsroom Anchor Carol Costello interviews Rockefeller College Assistant Professor Bryan Early on the topic of sanctions against Russia, Wednesday, April 30, 2014.

Rockefeller College Assistant Professor Bryan Early, director of the Project on International Security, Commerce, and Economic Statecraft (PISCES) at the University of Albany, was interviewed live on CNN by Carol Costello, Wednesday, April 29, 2014 at 10:40 a.m. ET.  The conversation between Carol Costello and Dr. Early followed a videotaped segment CNN produced on the topic of possible sanctions being levied against Russian billionaires in Russia.


CAROL COSTELLO:  Alright, let's talk about those sanctions against Russia.  Bryan Early is the director of the Project on International Security, Commerce, and Economic Statecraft at the University at Albany. He joins us now. Welcome.

BRYAN EARLY:  Hi, thanks for having me.

CAROL COSTELLO:  Well, let's talk about what was in Ted Rowland's package. You know the sanctions are against Russian billionaires in Russia, not Russian billionaires in the United States. If there were sanctions against Russians in the United States, would that matter?

BRYAN EARLY:  Well, it would certainly escalate the severity of the economic pressure that's being placed on Russia, but the ability of the U.S. government to dramatically alter the foreign policy of Vladimir Putin is not going to be affected by small-time sanctions even if it comes against a number of the wealthy, privileged Russian elite. I think that one of the key factors that we need to take into account is Vladimir Putin in approaching the Ukrainian crisis has been very strategic. And his actions have tended to be very well-thought-out and well-executed. When the U.S. encounters foreign policy crises around the world, one of its regular instruments to apply are economic sanctions. So, to think that Vladimir Putin hasn't accounted for the fact that a number of economic and political elites will likely be sanctioned as a result of what the Russian government is doing I think is a little naïve. This is something that I think Vladimir Putin has planned for and so I don't think that even expanding the sanctions significantly beyond where they are now — as long as they are relatively targeted and limited on elites — is really going to change the nature of the cost that Vladimir Putin is facing.

CAROL COSTELLO:  I've read Russia's interest in Ukraine is not about greed or Russia's economy but it's a matter of national interest in survival and you really have to get at that because he doesn't really care because to him this is national pride so it's about Russian security, not about money or taking Ukraine's resources away or not selling them natural gas or anything like that.

BRYAN EARLY:  Yeah, I think that's a very fair statement to make. I think that obviously Vladimir Putin does care about the economic welfare of his country but he has a broader portfolio of political interests and I think that he's staked a large deal of his reputation on the amount of prestige that the Russian government has in the region and within the world, and within the Ukrainian situation — particularly in Crimea — he's staked out a lot of his personal credibility to successfully being able to achieve what he views are Russia's national interests in its near abroad.

CAROL COSTELLO:  Bryan Early, thanks for your insights. I appreciate it.

BRYAN EARLY:  Alright, thank you so much.

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