Opinion | Effective and Comprehensive Sanctions to Penalize the Russian Economy for Actions in Ukraine

The Russian economy is struggling under sanctions, but it hasn’t been enough to stop President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. Despite this, daily life for most Russians has not been noticeably impacted due in part to large state subsidies. It’s become clear that the Western strategy to undermine Russia’s finances is a long-term effort, not a quick fix. While it hasn’t stopped the war, there are powerful ways that the US and its allies can undermine the Kremlin’s ability to continue the conflict. This includes better coordination and tighter enforcement of existing restrictions, particularly targeting energy exports, as well as cracking down on transshipment countries and companies that supply Russia’s military.

Sanctions have become an increasingly complex game, with Russia finding workarounds in friendly third countries and connections with shell companies. However, the West can have an impact, particularly through targeting oligarchies that help keep Putin in power and cracking down on the services and networks of service providers that underpin them. While the Russian economy has proven resilient, the loss of income from lowered export caps on oil cannot be absorbed indefinitely. By widening the battlefield to undermine the Russian economy, the West may hasten the liquidation of Putin and those around him.

The editorial board’s opinion is that the US and EU should work more closely together on export bans and target companies that supply the Russian military, even at the cost of diplomatic repercussions. Western countries may also step up their accusations against Armenia, which has re-exported critical goods to Russia, including electronics, and is eager for US security assistance in the face of recent hostilities with fellow former Soviet neighbor Azerbaijan.

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