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Economic sanctions against Russia: How effective? How durable?

Policy Briefs 23-3
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

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Economic sanctions by Western democracies against Russia have not stopped the war and attacks on Ukrainian civilians. Together with continued economic and military support for Ukraine, however, sanctions are blocking Russian president Vladimir Putin from achieving his territorial objectives. Sanctions have contributed to a sharp compression of Russian imports; forced Russia’s military and industry to source from more costly and inefficient suppliers at home and abroad; and slowly begun to squeeze Russian government finances. The G7 countries must sustain and augment their efforts, including by confiscating frozen reserves of the Central Bank of Russia to help fund Ukraine’s reconstruction. G7 policymakers need to derive lessons from the current crisis about the utility of sanctions in conflicts between major powers. Maintaining coherent and coordinated sanctions against large and powerful target countries is critical for the effectiveness and durability of the policy. Deploying sanctions against such rivals also requires a long-term commitment to the implementation and enforcement of the trade and finance restrictions. Sanctions impose costs on both the target country and those imposing the sanctions, so Western policymakers need to offset those costs via domestic support or tax relief to sustain political support over time for sanctions in big power conflicts.

Data Disclosure:

The data underlying this analysis can be downloaded here.

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