Semantron 23 Summer 2023

Economic sanctions against Russia

sanctions prove ultimately counter-productive as they turn public opinion against further support for Ukraine in the long run, as people will forced to prioritize their own economic interests first. Meanwhile, the effects of sanctions on Russian popular opinion are proving ineffective, likely due to the Putin regime’s control of the media (Milne, 2022). Putin has weaponized sanctions to his advantage, deciding to appoint governors to Russia’s 89 regions instead of holding elections, which he called too expensive in light of western sanctions. State control of R ussia’s media has allowed Putin to twist sanctions, painting Russia as a victim rather than an aggressor. Putin is able to hark back to the ‘Great Patriotic War’ and describe this as another struggle for the nation’s survival. This surge in patriotism stre ngthens Putin’s position and allows for a distraction from the woes of the removal of western branded goods. Overall, while severe sanctions against Russia are the clear moral choice, there needs to be an honest conversation about whether sanctions are achieving their stated goals. At the moment, to criticize the extent of sanctions makes one appear as somehow ‘anti - Ukraine’. However, it is clear to see that sanctions are ineffective against their intended targets, and the effects devastating to unintended targets in poorer areas of the world. Even after becoming the most sanctioned country in the world ahead of North Korea only a week into the invasion, Putin’s grip on power has only grown tighter (Wadhams, 2022). Sanctions provide Putin with a rallying cry and evidence of western hostility. Whilst it is clear that targeted sanctions against Russia’s central bank and monetary reserves have proved effective, we should be wary of blindly supporting widespread measures. Across the world, sanctions against Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea have only entrenched the power of the rulers. Ultimately, to sustain long-term support for Ukraine the west needs to renew a balance between maintaining public support at home and keeping our own economies afloat.


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