The Guardian: “Sanctions on Russia have failed”

11:26 22.05.2023 •

Sanctions on Russia have failed utterly in their declared objective of deterring Vladimir Putin’s special military operation in Ukraine, admits “The Guardian”.

They failed to curb his initial incursions after 2014 and failed to restrain his barbaric conduct of the present war. They have not destroyed his economy or induced his cronies, let alone his people, to rise up against him. They may have curbed his trade with some current and former partners, but hardly by much. He can afford to play long.

Sanctions have served Putin’s cause, in helping persuade his people that this war is one of flagrant western aggression against Russia. In addition, the inflationary costs imposed on the west have been stark – to the extent of weakening the western alliance behind Ukraine. Yet again the virtue signalling of liberal governments in the cause of “something must be done” has shot the west in the foot.

Last week, the Arab League agreed to readmit Syria to its ranks and invite its leader, Bashar al-Assad, to next week’s summit. It has accepted that a decade of western sanctions have failed to restrain, let alone topple, one of the cruellest dictators on the planet. Sanctions have impoverished Syria’s poor, enriched its elite and dumped some 6 million refugees on Assad’s Arab neighbours. And yet, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE now seem likely to resume trade with Syria, leaving the US facing the prospect of having to sanction them, under its previous commitments.

Western powers must also recognize the failure of sanctions against Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, which allowed both to move into the Russo-Chinese orbit of influence. This is similar to the outcome of the futile sanctions against Iran. Meanwhile, after the US’s weakening of oil sanctions, Venezuela’s President Maduro is expecting to be welcomed back into the community.

The west currently has sanctions in place that affect about 50 nations (!).

Sanctions against Russia over its military operation in Ukraine were exceptional only in being directed at a substantial trading nation rather than a poor one. They invited Russia to hit back in restricting gas and oil flows, the loss of revenue being partly compensated by the soaring price of both. The inflationary cost of living in western economies has been marked, destabilising one government after another. And yet Putin remains unchallenged in his Kremlin castle. None of this appears to have been predicted by policymakers.

Economic sanctions are an ill-considered, ineffective and regressive weapon of economic conflict. Yet there are new reports that the G7 and the EU are considering a further long-term ban on Russian gas exports.

At a time when a collapse in global trade is the greatest threat to world prosperity, western governments are apparently intent on furthering that collapse. They appear to want humanitarian catastrophe, - concludes “The Guardian”.


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