Foreign Affairs: The Sanctions on Russia Are Working

2023-01-18 | Political initiatives, Sanctions

By Vladimir Milov. There is a widespread belief that Western sanctions on Russia have fallen flat. Proponents of this theory point to macroeconomic indicators suggesting that the Russian economy has proved resilient. Critics also highlight how sanctions haven’t had their desired effect: after all, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not moved to end his disastrous war against Ukraine.

These arguments, however, are misguided. It is important to note that Russia had the opportunity to cushion its economy against Western sanctions before Putin declared war. For starters, Russia accumulated substantial financial reserves. Since 2014, Russia has increased trade to Asiawhich has allowed it to weather a reduction of commerce with the WestMost important, Putin aggressively strengthened his repressive machine to deter mass protests against deteriorating living standards. For all those reasons, expectations that Western sanctions would cause the Russian economy—and Putin’s regime—to quickly disintegrate were unrealistic.

Putin has invested significant resources in a disinformation campaign aimed at misleading Western policymakers about the real effects of sanctions. But make no mistake: they are, in fact, hobbling the Russian economy. And propagating the myth that they are not effective could nudge policymakers to drop them, giving Putin a lifeline.

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