Why it may be hard to isolate Russia, experts say

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In response to the invasion of Ukraine, the West has imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia, nearly crippling its economy and isolating it from all but a few allies.

President Joe Biden and other government officials have said sanctions from the U.S. and its allies will make Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, pariahs on the world stage.

However, one expert who spoke with ABC News says that casting Russia out of the international community, making it a pariah state, may not be so easy.

“Russia is a member of the UN security council, it has veto power there. It is just a major actor on the world stage in so many ways. So isolating Russia, shaming it, making it a pariah is a huge challenge,” said Daniel Hamilton, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institute.

Yet, “Russia has not done too well with allies,” Hamilton also said.

PHOTO: An elderly woman walks away from a burning house in Lysytsansk, a city located in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, on May 30, 2022.

An elderly woman walks away from a burning house in Lysytsansk, a city located in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, on May 30, 2022.

AFP Contributor via Getty Images

PHOTO: Sanctions have isolated Russians from the outside world. In this photo, people dine at the BB & Burgers, a Russian-owned American-styled chain restaurant.

Sanctions have isolated Russians from the outside world. In this photo, people dine at the BB & Burgers, a Russian-owned American-styled chain restaurant.

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images, FILE

“Today, it’s real allies are … sort of also pariah states. It’s Assad’s Syria, it’s Venezuela, it’s Cuba and that’s about it. Others tolerate Russia. They figure out ways to deal with it, in the former Soviet space. But they’re not really allies,” Hamilton said.

China has also kept a relationship with Russia, which Hamilton called “pro-Russian neutrality,” with China falling short of giving Russia its full support, he said

An analysis of American policymakers found that the U.S. punishes pariah states committing one of five acts: the development of weapons of mass destruction, involvement in terrorism, posing a military threat, challenging international norms and, most recently, cyberthreats.

The U.S. currently designates Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism, according to the Department of State.

PHOTO: Vladimir Putin and Russia face isolation from the west. In this image, Putin watches the Victory Day military parade at Moscow's Red Square, on May 9, 2022.

Vladimir Putin and Russia face isolation from the west. In this image, Putin watches the Victory Day military parade at Moscow’s Red Square, on May 9, 2022.

Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

PHOTO: Fumio Kishida, Justin Trudeau, Joe Biden, Olaf Scholz, Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron and Mario Draghi pose for a G7 leader's photo during a NATO summit on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, on March 24, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi pose for a G7 leaders’ family photo during a NATO summit on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on March 24, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium.

Pool/Getty Images, FILE

Russia’s gross domestic product, a metric used to gauge the size of an economy by quantifying all the goods and services it produced, will be hard hit, according to Andrew Lohsen, a fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Russian GDP, by their own estimates, is expected to to fall by between eight and 12%. This is the sharpest contraction since 1994,” said Lohsen.

“Other former finance officials in Russia put that number close to 30%,” Lohsen said.

Lohsen also told ABC News the way Russia has conducted its war warrants a strong response from the international community.

“I think the images of civilians with their hands tied behind their back or shot execution style is an indication that Russia simply cannot be treated the way it has before, that this is a war crime,” Lohsen said.

“The way that Russia has fought this war in a way that is so obviously meant to terrorize and inflict pain and suffering on civilian noncombatants,” Lohsen added.

PHOTO: The Enagas regasification plant in Barcelona, Spain.

The Enagas regasification plant in Barcelona, Spain.

Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

PHOTO: Vladimir Putin meets with Xi Jinping on Feb. 4th, 2022, in Beijing.

Vladimir Putin meets with Xi Jinping on Feb. 4th, 2022, in Beijing.

Alexei Druzhinin/AP, FILE

Putin considers Ukraine not as a sovereign country, but rather, a lost tribe of Russia, Hamilton said.

“He really is determined to either cripple it or to absorb it, if possible. He’s having some trouble doing that,” Hamilton said.

As it moves to isolate Russia, the U.S. is softening relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia, despite Biden’s campaign promise to make Saudi Arabia a pariah for its killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

While the U.S. has been able to cut out Russian oil, the European Union still relies on Russia for 25% of it’s oil and 40% of its natural gas.

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