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Russia & Former Soviet Union
26 Mar, 2022 10:29 HomeRussia & FSU Will Western sanctions deal a fatal blow to Russia’s economy? Despite severe economic measures imposed on Russia over Ukraine, the situation might not be as bad as first anticipated
“We are crippling Putin’s war machine by denying him access to the money & support he needs to fund his illegal war.” The words British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted, on Thursday.
Her message would have scarcely been questioned by Western audiences, as it is perceived widely that in response to the situation in Ukraine, the US and its allies have indeed ganged up to impose severe costs on Russia. This has involved blacklisting many wealthy Russian businesspeople, often incorrectly referred to as ‘oligarchs’, freezing the assets of the country’s Central Bank, expelling some financial institutions from SWIFT, closing airspace to Russian planes, as well as many more sanctions.
These collective measures have created the impression that the military offensive in Ukraine will ultimately cripple Russia before it can achieve its goals. But all may not be what it seems. Beyond the fanfare and triumphalism of Western propaganda – which has now arguably become an echo-chamber owing to the censorship installed against anything that runs against the US government’s narrative on this situation – a more nuanced reality is beginning to emerge.
This reveals that Western sanctions have failed to deliver the knockout blow required to fatally wound the Russian economy, or to upend any of its most important sectors. While bruised, Moscow is in a stronger position than they would like to admit.
Despite all the hype about newly-found unity, the European Union, at least at the moment, does not have the political capital, will, or strength to impose an embargo on the import of Russian oil and gas, one of key revenue sources for Moscow. Despite some of the more hawkish members of the bloc in the East demanding this, the economic consequences of a Russian energy ban seem to have have rendered consensus impossible and Germany, and Hungary, have publicly placed the brakes on such measures, warning of a potential economic catastrophe.