Why Western Sanctions Might Not Be Enough to Stop Russia

O presidente russo, Vladimir Putin, em cerimônia no Túmulo do Soldado Desconhecido, em Moscou, nesta quarta-feira

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow on Wednesday | Photo: EFE/EPA/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/KREMLIN POOL/SPUTNIK

23211406 23211406 Since Russia’s announcement of recognition of the independence of the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, fears of an invasion of ex-soviet republic, sanctions against the government of Vladimir Putin accumulate.

23211406 The United States, Canada, the European Union and its members, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan imposed or announced the first measures against Moscow, which include sanctions and the halting of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline certification process, blocking Russian access to the system Western financial system and measures against Kremlin-linked oligarchs and the country’s financial institutions.

23211406 )In addition, Washington has promised stricter sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine. However, although the Russian Foreign Ministry assured in a statement that there will be “a strong response” to the Americans, analysts point out that the West will have to do more to annoy Putin. 23211406According to a survey carried out by economist Anders Aslund and political scientist Maria Snegovaya to the Atlantic Council think tank, the sanctions that the West imposed on Russia since 2014, the year in which it annexed the Ukrainian Crimea peninsula and started to financially and militarily support the separatists in Donbass, cost the country 2 .5% to 3% of GDP annually.

Still, Putin did not go back in the two positions. “In order to continue with his aggressive foreign policy, Putin is adopting a policy of extreme austerity that is harming his country and its people,” said Aslund, in an article published on the website of the American financial information magazine Barron’s.

To reduce the impact of European and US sanctions on your economy, since 2014 Russia has increased its international reserves (decreasing the proportion of dollars), has become less dependent on the international financial market and has sought commercial partnerships outside the West, especially with China.

In addition, the chance of any internal voice denouncing any damage resulting from sanctions and being heard is small, as the Russian president controls Parliament, persecutes and criminalizes opponents and critics, and has the local economic elite as an ally.

23211406“The only conceivable effect of sanctions is to inflict so much the pain to the country that would indirectly help the Russian opposition. For that to work, sanctions would have to include gas, Russia’s main export. And the cut in international finance would have to be total. That’s not going to happen”, pointed out Wolfgang Münchau, from Eurointelligence, a website on politics, economics and finance specializing in European affairs.

“Nord Stream 2 is now dead, simply because the US won’t let it happen. But this is irrelevant to the current energy crisis because no gas is being pumped through it.”

On last Tuesday’s live () from the column War Games, reserve colonel and geopolitics analyst Paulo Roberto da Silva Gomes Filho pondered that it is precisely this dependence on natural gas exported by the Russians that makes effective sanctions difficult.23211406“The question is whether economic sanctions will do more harm to Russia or to Europeans. Who will suffer the most if they cannot buy Russian gas, will it be Russia, or, for example, Germany? This is the Gordian knot of these economic sanctions that directly involve Europe and its energy dependence on Russia”, he argued.

“President Putin himself, in his speech on Monday, referred to the embargoes and implied that they were already in his account, he was already considering them for decision-making. He said that the embargoes would be applied anyway, if not for that reason, it will be for another. Of course, there’s a bit of bravado about it, rhetoric, but it makes some sense”, added the analyst.