Most importantly, measured against the EU’s stated objective of prodding a shift in Moscow’s Ukraine policy, isolation earns poor grades.Most importantly, measured against the EU’s stated objective of prodding a shift in Moscow’s Ukraine policy, isolation earns poor grades. Russia failed to uphold its end of the Minsk II cease-fire, an accordnegotiated in February that was meant to end the conflict in the Donbass region of Ukraine. In recent weeks, new evidence has emerged to substantiate Western claims of direct Russian involvement in stirring renewed violence in eastern Ukraine. Moreover, slowly recovering oil prices coupled with deepened economic ties to China, India, and others — efforts by Moscow to thwart the impact of current and potential future Western sanctions — may mean that the initial pain of sanctions will gradually wear off. A recent World Bankforecast says Russia’s economy is now looking up.
On top of all this, there is mounting evidence that isolation often simply doesn’t change countries’ behavior.On top of all this, there is mounting evidence that isolation often simply doesn’t change countries’ behavior. Obama’s decision late last year to reestablish relations with Cuba acknowledged what had been obvious for decades: Isolation hadn’t reshaped the behavior of the Castro regime. Western countries and the Arab League isolating Syria in response to President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal crackdown beginning in 2011 did not deter him in the least, and actually prompted both Iran and Russia to step up in his defense.