February 22, 2024

U.S. Campaign to Isolate Russia Shows Limits After 2 Years of War

Source: The New York Times

Journalists: Edward Wong, Michael Crowley

“In the here and now, the sanctions have disappointed,” said Edward Fishman, a former State Department official in the Obama administration who oversaw Russia sanctions after Mr. Putin annexed Crimea in 2014.

Over time, Mr. Fishman said, Western sanctions will take a greater toll. Despite loopholes and black market trade, Russia will struggle to acquire critical high-technology components. And ruptured deals with Western energy companies will deprive Russia of the investment it needs to maintain efficient oil and gas production.

But he said that Mr. Putin had prepared his country for an onslaught of sanctions, and that he had come up with enough options to maintain his war machine and leverage on the world stage.

“Unfortunately, Russia has now built a kind of alternative supply chain,” said Mr. Fishman, a senior research scholar at Columbia University.

He added that Mr. Biden could take even bolder steps to crack down on Russian energy exports and technology imports. But that would mean friction with nations that have become major buyers of Russian oil, like India, who might reduce their imports only under the threat of sanctions or other punitive measures that could risk a diplomatic crisis.

Similarly, many businesses enjoying big profits from serving as middlemen for banned technology items are in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, two partners whom Mr. Biden would rather not confront.

Perhaps most daunting is the fact that curtailing Russian oil exports is likely to drive up global oil prices — bad news for the United States and a president facing voters this fall.

“I think there’s a lot of nerves about doing anything that can rattle global oil markets,” Mr. Fishman said, “especially in an election year.”

Read the full story and more from The New York Times.


  • Edward Fishman