Russia not to blame for Ukraine crisis and sanctions won't work – John Mearsheimer

It is almost impossible for me to see the Americans taking sanctions off any time soon, said John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago. There is a little hope that we are going to solve the Ukraine crisis and US-Russia relations will continue to suffer, he added.

On the sidelines of Valdai International Discussion Club, RT asked experts about the prospects of US-Russia relations after the American elections in November.

RT: What do you think about the power of leaders and their power of decision making to influence policy, regardless of whom is now in the White House? Do you think it will have a significant impact on America’s relationship with Russia, which has been used as a boogeyman by the Clinton campaign? Is that something that concerns American voters?

John Mearsheimer: No, I don’t think most [Americans] care much about foreign policy in general. They care mainly about domestic politics and the state of the American economy. I don’t think that all this talk about Russia being a boogeyman is going to have much influence on the election. I think that Hillary Clinton will win a decisive victory and I don’t think it will change US-Russian relations very much if she takes office, as I predict. But if it does change things in a meaningful way, it will make all for the worse because she is a hawk on Russia, she is very anti-Putin and she is surrounded by advisers who are very hawkish on Russia. So, there is no reason to expect any improvement in US-Russian relations in the near future. I say that with great regret.

"Every four years, the Russian question becomes more and more prominent. I am not sure why this is the case. Haven’t they got enough issues and problems of their own to discuss. Secondly, it is almost certain that Hillary Clinton will win and therefore now we need to start thinking what political consequences will emerge out of that. On the one side (…) she initially said she would impose a ‘no-fly zone’ in Syria. She will temper that, and try to negotiate that, so it is not immediately a situation of war. But on the other hand, some of her team are talking about possibly the imposition of more sanctions on Russia. Now sanctions are a type of warfare, so I think that is a catastrophic way forward (…) This isn’t a Cold War, this is worse than the Cold War, the Cold War was about managing conflicts, this is about conducting conflicts, and that is much worse. And I am afraid that Hillary Clinton is one of these people who is really keen to continue and gets stuck into that battle." - Richard Sakwa, professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent

RT: In terms of EU-Russian relations, the EU summit has just finished and new sanctions at least are agreed for Russia and the old ones still remain. Do you think sanctions are what is needed right now? Are they constructive, because both sides have obviously been affected by them?

JM: The sanctions are all about the Ukraine crisis. That is why the West put these sanctions on the Russians. In the West, especially in the US, we blame the Russians for causing the Ukraine crisis. And the idea is that we put sanctions on and keep those sanctions on the Russians until they change their behavior. The fact is that the Russians didn’t cause the Ukraine crisis; the West did for the most part. And the sanctions are not going to work. But it is almost impossible for me to see the Americans taking those sanctions off any time soon. So, I think there is a little hope that we are going to solve the Ukraine crisis and I think US-Russia relations will continue to be bad.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.