March 4th, 2014
04:27 PM ET

Zakaria: U.S. should push for Russia sanctions

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about the latest developments in Ukraine, and how the United States should respond. This is an edited version of the interview.

If the U.S. doesn't have much support from some critical European allies like Germany for tough sanctions against Russia, where does it leave the Ukraine crisis?

It's very tough to do sanctions if you don't have the Germans and the British on board. Remember, Europe imports almost 30 percent of its energy from Russia, from Russian natural gas. Sometimes it goes even higher than that. So they are going to be very reluctant to do the kind of comprehensive sanctions which would deprive them of that energy. And as you point out, London's role as a financial center is dependent on, among other things, Russia's capital.

I think we should still push for as comprehensive sanctions as we can get. You're never going to get totally comprehensive sanctions, but they do exact a price. And what we're trying to do here, as I see it, what the United States is trying to do with many members of the international community is to make Russia pay some price, some significant price, isolate it, and send a signal that this is not how we want business to be conducted in the 21st century. You're not going to be able to stop it in its tracks. You're not going to be able to send troops into Crimea. But the fact that we can't get 100 percent leak proof sanctions doesn't mean we shouldn't try to raise the bar and exact some price.

This is what Secretary of State John Kerry said in Kiev today: “Russia, if it wanted to help de-escalate the situation, could return its troops to the barracks, live by the 1997 base agreement and de-escalate rather than expand their invasion. Now, we would prefer that. I come here today at the instruction of President Obama to make it absolutely clear, the United States of America would prefer to see this de-escalating.”

Are you getting any indications that Putin and the Russians are about to deescalate this crisis?

I think John Kerry was, in a sense, hoping that what had worked perhaps inadvertently in Syria is going to work this time, where he put out a wish and the Russians, if you remember, grabbed that wish and said fine, if that's what the plan is in Syria, which is to get those chemical weapons out, we can try and make that happen. In this case, the Russians aren’t trying to deescalate. What they're trying to do is lock in. Lock in the gains they have made by essentially making Crimea outside of the control of the Ukrainian government.

I think what we have to do is to deter Russia from doing anything further in the Ukraine, but also start recognizing that there has to be a political solution here, which will involve the Russians. Whether that involves some kind of referendum on the status of Crimea, special autonomous status – remember, right now, Crimea is essentially part of Russia. It has been taken over. We need to try to find a way to not let that stand as a fact of international life. And that involves dealing with the Russians. So while I'm glad the secretary of state went to Kiev, he probably needs to go to Moscow pretty soon.

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Topics: Russia

soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. John

    I SMELL A RUSE!!! I'd be more worried about that lone Russian ship that is docked in a Cuban port only miles away from the US. On the outside it looks like a typical recon vessel but on the inside it could be carrying an EMP weapon that could destroy the whole of the US.

    March 5, 2014 at 12:35 am |
  2. GangstaCat

    Putin is a good gadfly as he’ll make us all pay attention once again to am aggressive system slowly encroaching on the West. It’s incredible how far Russia and China are engaging in co-opting social media and it should help us glean insight into their real character. We’ve lost focus on leaders like Putin who host the ability to destroy most of the life on this plane, assuming that was Cold War era mentality and out of date. But it isn't.

    March 5, 2014 at 1:23 am |
  3. fredflinstone

    Fareed- I read your articles in Time, some times watch your show on CNN cuz you get the big guns. Before its too late and you lose all credibility please please stop being a public relations speaker for your Superiors and do your job which I presume is some sort of Journalism??? Has become blatantly obvious that you are biased and committed to an agenda designed by your Superiors. Also, in regards to your stance on sanctions... A third grader can tell you that you can punish a subordinate but not a fellow colleague.

    March 5, 2014 at 1:49 am |
  4. PeterD

    Zakaria U are NOT President. Stop speculating your opinions.

    March 5, 2014 at 3:12 am |
  5. harry

    Zakaria, which world are you living in? Sanctions only hurt the people not the politicians. And why the hypocrisy? Did you call for sanctions against US when US invaded Iraq, and that too, on false pretenses of WMD? Regardless who cares what you think?

    March 5, 2014 at 4:57 am |
  6. Suhail Ahmad


    Try to look beyond this crisis. Do you really think Arabs started the revolution in 2011?. No, it's been orchestrated by the same Zionists who stared the firsts Arab spring during the WW1. These Zionists (whose army wing is NATO) don't want Russia to become again super power. When Putin intervened in Syria last year from NATO attacked, they decided to orchestrate uprising in Ukraine. Why do you think NATO is in Iraq, Libya and other parts of Arabs countries? Its because NATO can attack Syria and Egypt to capture more land for Israel and to make Israel next super power. US and EU has to do this work before US will be replaced by Israel as a super power. Zionist want to create a greater Kingdom of David in Israel by grappling more land from Egypt and Syria. Zionists agenda is to slave the whole humanity. Russia is doing good so that NATO can be deterred and you will see in coming years, Muslims countries will form alliance with Russia and they will all ditch USA. Its coming.....Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have already started their engagement with Russia.

    March 5, 2014 at 7:57 am |
  7. chrissy

    If the reason behind this invasion really was because Putin wanted to protect Russians that live in Ukraine then why not bring them back to Russia? Two answers, that is NOT the real reason AND they dont want to go back! And @ trollseeker, proper grammer and english? How does "pretent" apply in YOUR sentence?

    March 5, 2014 at 9:48 am |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      The best thing to do about the Ukrainian crisis chrissy, is to split that between the right-wing, Roman Catholic west and the Eastern Orthodox, Russian speaking east. If the western Ukrainians want to sell out(shaking hands with the Devil, so to speak) to the West and turn that country into the China of the late 19th century, then let them! Just ignore all these ignorant anti-Russian rants here. The people making them don't have the sense God gave a goose!

      March 5, 2014 at 10:06 am |
  8. chrissy

    Lol @ Joseph! A goose huh? That was funny thank you i very much needed that!

    March 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
  9. raosg

    This guy thinks he is more American than the Americans.

    March 5, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
  10. John

    You've got the numbers wrong, Zakaria. Europe doesn't get 30% of it's energy from Russia, it's actually just 30% of it's natural gas. Overall, it amounts to about only 5-6 % of it's total energy consumption.

    March 7, 2014 at 5:22 am |
  11. Putin - not bad for world

    We negotiate with Russia, no sanctions. Europe needs Russia for business, natural resources ... we can live without USA, but not without Russia.

    March 7, 2014 at 9:25 am |
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