The special counsel investigation of Russian election interference accomplished almost nothing to prevent further attacks on U.S. democracy, according to a cybersecurity expert.

Robert Mueller’s investigation resulted in convictions for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, along with former national security adviser Mike Flynn and others, but the former FBI director had little authority to hold Russian agents accountable for the crimes he uncovered, wrote cybersecurity analyst Robert Johnson for The Daily Beast.

“Federal indictments have proved to be an imperfect tool for deterrence,” Johnson wrote. “Metaphorically, they are a theatrical performance designed to captivate the media and provide an illusion of decisive action.”

There is no way to enforce indictments of Russian operatives, because the U.S. cannot compel their extradition to face charges, and at least some of those defendants are young, and therefore expendable to the Kremlin, so it doesn’t matter much if they’re reassigned to other areas.

Sanctions haven’t done much to slow down Russian cyberattacks on U.S.-based think tanks and non-profits, and the Trump administration has done little or nothing to prevent attacks on the 2020 presidential election.

Johnson recommended a range of policies — from putting pressure on Russian oil markets to deploying troops to its geographic borders — aimed at marginalizing the Kremlin’s military expansion.

“History instructs us that to create a successful deterrent model against Russia you must establish consequence,” Johnson argued.

“As tensions between our two countries increase,” he added, “U.S. policymakers can’t afford to keep revisiting 2016 to the detriment of establishing the conditions needed for a safe and secure election in 2020. There’s little sign so far that we’ve learned our lesson.”

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