CNN speaks with Fareed about the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 and how the West should respond to Russia’s alleged role in assisting pro-Russian militants in Ukraine.
Is Russian President Vladimir Putin getting increasingly isolated, do you think, at this point?
He is getting isolated internationally, though you will notice that many European countries have still been very, very reluctant to confront him directly and to publicly demand that Russia do things. The Malaysian government has not done it. Russia is a big country, it has a United Nations veto, and most importantly, he still has a great deal of support at home.
Remember, the version of events that Russians are hearing is a kind of alternate reality in which they charge that the Ukrainian government is responsible, even though the Ukrainian government doesn't actually control the territory from which the rockets were launched. They claim that the Ukrainian government might have been trying to shoot down President Putin's plane and missed. So, there's a whole fabricated alternate reality, and Putin remains popular in Russia.
So, while he's getting more isolated internationally, it isn't clear that the domestic pressure, which is what he worries about, has risen at all.
As you point out, it's his domestic constituency that he cares about most. But given that you've suggested that he’s getting increasingly isolated, what do you think the consequences of that are, so far as his relationship with the international community is concerned?
I think it’s placing Russia in a position of deep uncertainty with regard to business investment, with regard to diplomatic dealings, with regard to almost all those kinds of things that Russia does care about.
Remember, Russia is not Iran. Russia is a country that needs foreign investment. It sells its debt on foreign markets all the time. And so there are ways in which the Russians have to deal with the world and need the world. So, Europe has many strong cards in this regard. If the Europeans were to decide to push harder on economic sanctions, it would have a very important effect. Putin does care about all that, because Russia is integrated into the world economy. That is the leverage Europe has.