RELEASE: Concrete Steps to Address the Crisis in Ukraine through Key Economic and Diplomatic Tools

Washington, D.C. — Today, as the world community continues to watch the political crisis unfold in Ukraine with great concern, the Center for American Progress released a report offering recommendations for a nonviolent solution to the crisis that reestablishes the sovereignty of Ukraine and maintains the integrity of international norms and treaties.

The Ukrainian political crisis and Russia’s apparent willingness to annex Crimea has raised several important strategic questions for U.S. policymakers as they coordinate a response with allies in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. When determining the most effective course of action, policymakers should assess ways to support various U.S. priorities in the crisis, including, but not limited to:

  • Finding a nonviolent solution to the crisis that reestablishes the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This must include the withdrawal of unauthorized Russian military forces from Ukrainian territory and the return of authorized Black Sea Fleet forces to their base.
  • Establishing a functioning and democratic Ukrainian government and economy that respect the rights of minorities and can manage a difficult period of transition, including new national elections.
  • Maintaining the credibility and integrity of transatlantic alliances and treaty obligations.
  • Upholding international rules, norms, and institutions that govern acceptable international behavior.

“The United States and its allies in Europe have the diplomatic and economic tools necessary to impose a significant cost to Russia for such a blatant violation of its treaty obligations,” said Ken Sofer, Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress. “Every effort should be made to achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine, but if Russia is not willing to recognize Ukraine’s territorial integrity, then the international community needs to show its willing to stand up for the international rules, norms, and institutions we have worked so hard to build since World War II.”

“Annexing Crimea will cost Russia its historic influence over the rest of Ukraine and spark deep mistrust among Moscow’s neighbors, driving many toward the West,” said Vikram Singh, Vice President of the National Security and International Policy team at the Center for American Progress. “So the best outcome for Russia is actually a diplomatic solution that protects Russian interests within a unified and sovereign Ukraine.”

To support these key priorities and address the crisis in Ukraine, the United States should take a series of short- and long-term steps under the following broad banners:

  • Isolate Russia economically and diplomatically, including suspending its participation in major international forums such as the Group of 8, or G-8, and pressing for a diplomatic solution to the current crisis that results in the removal of unauthorized Russian troops and reestablishes Ukrainian sovereignty.
  • Support the Ukrainian government through robust economic and political assistance to stabilize its economy, implement longer-term economic reforms, and advance political reforms that promote effective democratic governance at national and local levels.
  • Reassure NATO that the United States will abide by its security commitments through a short-term, augmented security presence and a long-term effort to diversify European energy sources.
  • Establish a cost to Russia for violating international norms and treaties through economic sanctions, asset freezes, and travel bans in coordination with the European Union.

Read the report: Concrete Steps to Address the Crisis in Ukraine by Ken Sofer

Relevant resources:

To speak to an expert, contact Anne Shoup at or at 202.481.7146.