Annette Heuser on Russia and the G7 Summit

Bertelsmann Foundation Executive Director Annette Heuser was interviewed by CNN New Day on the occasion of the G7 Summit in Germany. She spoke about the West’s Russia sanctions strategy.

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VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Annette Heuser is the executive director of the Bertelsmann Foundation, a non-partisan think tank. She joins us now from Washington. Thank you for speaking with us this morning.

If you could detail for us what leverage the U.S. has at this summit to get the world powers to keep up the pressure on Russia and on President Putin.

ANNETTE HEUSER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BERTELSMANN FOUNDATION: Don’t forget the American president is in Germany today at the G7 to achieve his major objective, which is European unity over the sanctions in — towards Russia and we have four European leaders, the French, the British, the Germans and the Italians.

And I think it’s very important that these leaders have some private time, so to say, with the American president to discuss how to keep the sanctions regime in place and to extend it until the end of the year. And I think the American president is key for Angela Merkel to achieve this European unity.

BLACKWELL: So the sanctions have been in place for some time now. They have weakened the ruble and have caused some problems for

President Putin and the Russian people, but is there any indications that these sanctions have dissuaded Putin from continued aggressions or that greater sanctions will dissuade him from going even further in Ukraine?

HEUSER: I think it’s fair to say that you can argue if the sanctions really had an effect on the behavior of the Russian president because we have seen over the last days that the fighting has continued in the Eastern Ukraine.

Sanctions are the only tool in the toolbox for the western leaders right now, (…) but besides that some more creative thinking is needed on how to engage Russia in the future because completely isolating it has not worked so far.

And we have seen in the second quarter of this year that the Russian economy is bouncing back despite of the sanctions so I think the leaders have to take to a certain extent an evaluation of these sanctions and have to make a decision how to move forward.

But at this point so to say no one has a real recipe how to engage with Russia and how to put real pressure on the Russian president and therefore the sanctions are the only tool in the toolbox for the western leaders right now to impose pressure on the Russian president.

So they will continue with the sanctions regime, but besides that I think there is some more creative thinking needed how to engage Russia in the future because completely isolating it hasn’t worked so far.

BLACKWELL: Annette Heuser, thank you so much. We’ll continue to watch the conversation that’s happening in Croon, Germany as the G7 leaders continue to meet and at the top of the agenda, what to do about Russia. Thank you so much, Annette.

Annette Heuser is the Executive Director of the Bertelsmann Foundation in Washington, DC