Why Western sanctions don’t affect Russia’s appetite for war

The US imposes new sanctions on Russia
The US imposes new sanctions on Russia

I suspect that not so long ago, sanctions were seen in the West as an effective and very important deterrent.

A deterrent that should act as a key safeguard against the most unpleasant geopolitical processes.

Therefore, when the Russian aggressors seized Crimea and unleashed a war in Ukraine’s Donbas, the sanctions were so weak. That’s what all the talk was about then. Sanctions had to be held back as a deterrent.

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The constant promise of “real” sanctions was seen as a tool inferior to nuclear weapons, of course, but still something serious.

The mythologizing of sanctions as something that collapsed the Soviet Union and ensured victory in the Cold War for the civilized world was widespread. Now we understand that it wasn’t the sanctions that played a decisive role then, but rather the general unsustainability of the Soviet economic model, which eventually would have collapsed. With or without sanctions. But everyone believed in sanctions.

The opportunity to apply them in full arose after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Actually, the West called the legendary “sanctions from hell” as a means of preventing such an invasion.

Sanctions were finally imposed. Finally, it seems, they were serious. And they seem to even work and affect the Russian economy. The only problem is that they don’t affect the Russians’ desire to continue the war.

Of course, many factors led to this.

the West is constantly thinking about how to impose sanctions so as not to harm itself and its interests

First, these most decisive and “destructive” sanctions have nevertheless turned out to be inconsistent and half-hearted. The West has never stomached oil or LNG embargo when it comes to trading with Russia.

Secondly, the world has changed in a few decades. In addition to the West, there is, for example, China, who isn’t going to impose any sanctions on Russian aggressors. China doesn’t care about any genocide committed by the Russian aggressor. They themselves are well versed in genocide. And they can pay Moscow for its resources. Not that much, but quite enough to finance the war.

Thirdly, the West is constantly thinking about how to impose sanctions so as not to harm itself and its interests, but it doesn’t work that way. If you use sanctions as deterrence, it must be real, not conditional. Otherwise, there will be no deterrence. If there is no deterrence, it’s necessary to look for other means of deterrence. And here, by any stretch, you can’t think of anything better than a good old arms race. You can try to invent a bicycle, but you’ll fail.

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So, in the end, you’ll have to go back to good old weapons, armies, military bases — actual deterrence, not sanctions.

As for sanctions, of course, let them be in force, but frankly, Western sanctions alone cannot solve anything. Especially if the enemies of the West are also capitalists who have a lot of money. And if you have a lot of money, sanctions turn into merely an additional cost. But what of it if you’re willing to bear it?

As practice has shown, Ukraine is now implementing more effective sanctions.

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Ukraine’s SBU security service, together with the Special Operations Forces and the Unmanned Systems Forces, used drones to hit another [Russian] oil refinery almost daily.

This is a continuation of the strategy to undermine Russia’s economic base income, which the enemy spends on war. Overall, our drones have recently successfully attacked 12 oil refineries in Russia.

A few days ago, SBU strike drones targeted three more Rosneft [state-owned] oil refineries in Samara Oblast, namely Novokuibyshevsk, Kuibyshev and Syzran ones. In total, these plants process about 25 million tons of oil per year, which is almost 10% of Russia’s total refining capacity.

And if we recall last month’s special operation by the SBU and Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence (HUR) against the Novolipetsk Metallurgical Plant, which is a pretty major Russian industrial enterprise, the picture gets even more interesting.

These Ukrainian “sanctions” are clearly faster and more effective. They may not be so elegantly documented, but they’ll definitely bring more and more benefits in terms of limiting the aggressor state’s ability to continue the war.

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It’s significant that Ukraine imposes these “sanctions” on its own. While the partners are still thinking about whether to give us 300 kilometer-range missiles or not, Ukrainian drones are flying for 900 kilometers, striking critical targets. So, sanctions can work. The question is which ones.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine