What's Included In The Latest U.S. Sanctions Against Russia
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
And let's turn to the latest U.S. sanctions just announced on Russia. Today, the Treasury Department rolled out sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs, also a bunch of companies and also 17 senior Russian government officials. To help us understand this move, we are joined now by former Ambassador Daniel Fried. Among other things he did at the State Department, he helped craft sanctions against Russia for the Obama administration. Ambassador Fried, welcome.
DANIEL FRIED: Thank you.
KELLY: So what do you make of these new sanctions - good move?
FRIED: Yeah, it's a good move. I think the Trump administration turned in a solid piece of work, and I applaud them for it.
KELLY: Not something you hear from an Obama administration official every day.
FRIED: Well, I'm not - I'm a career government person (laughter). Fox News calls people like me the deep state - that I serve both Republicans and Democrats. I think this is a strong sanctions step. And I like the particular targets they chose. It was well done. I would've signed off on it myself.
KELLY: Talk about the particular targets they chose. These sanctions are targeting oligarchs, as we mentioned - Russia's richest men, also some of the men closest to Putin. Why is that a good idea in your view?
FRIED: Now, that is the point. You don't want to just go after rich Russians, but you do want - and I think it's a good idea - to go against Putin's power structure. And the message to them is, as long as Putin is attacking the West in general, and the United States in particular, being close to Putin will be costly. So the Trump target list went after some big businessmen close to Putin. It also went against two golden youth so-called.
KELLY: Golden youth you said. Explain.
FRIED: Golden youth. That's a term of art for the privileged children of oligarchs. So the administration went after two kinds of inner circle - the oligarchs themselves and their children, plus some of the companies they dominate. This was cleverly done, and I think it will cause nervousness in Moscow. And this is a message to that class, they can't simultaneously be part of a process attacking the West and take advantage of the West by parking their (laughter) ill-gotten money safely in Western banks and real estate deals.
KELLY: What impact is this going to have on relations between Washington and Moscow? Already in a pretty bad state following the poisoning of the former Russian spy...
KELLY: ...In Britain and following - Russia kicking out U.S. diplomats - 60 American diplomats who got kicked out of Russia just this week.
KELLY: How do new sanctions help that?
FRIED: The point is not simply to make things better for the sake of making things better. President Trump is right. It's a good idea to get along with Russia, but you don't pay Russia to get along with them. To get along with Russia, we need a better Russia. We need a Russia that is not walking all over its neighbors and attacking us. To get to that better relationship with a better Russia, we need to resist the bad Russia we've got right now. And at the same time, don't trash all the channels of communication. Keep them open, but don't let that desire for better relations paralyze us as they're trying to steal our lunch and mess with our elections.
KELLY: What kind of reaction are you watching for from Russia?
FRIED: Well, I think in the near term, the official reaction will be to complain and to retaliate. So just assume that's going to happen. What I'm really interested in is quietly what the Russians start saying to themselves. I remember the early 1980s, and what you started hearing from the Russians - I was in the Soviet Union at the time - was a whispered sense, we cannot go on like this. And that sentiment led to Gorbachev, but it takes strategy. It takes patience. It takes determination, and I hope this administration has it. But frankly, I'll give them high marks for the sanctions today.
KELLY: And you'll be watching for the whispers maybe in response from Russia.
FRIED: I will. (Laughter) You know, as President Trump says, we'll see.
KELLY: That's Ambassador Daniel Fried. He's now a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council. Ambassador, thank you.
FRIED: Thanks for the opportunity.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.