April 27, 2023

Incentivizing Whistleblowers to Combat Sanctions Evasion

This article was originally published in War on the Rocks.

Earlier this year, a small drone flew over a Belarusian airfield, perched atop a Russian warplane, and blew up. The attack put out of action one of Russia’s last few A-50 radar aircraft, which helped hurl ballistic missiles towards Ukraine. Now Russia seems unable to replace the aircraft, because foreign suppliers don’t want to deal with the Kremlin. Sanctions are to be thanked for that.

Although misguided patriotism drives many Russian intelligence officers to support President Vladimir Putin’s war machine, money can persuade sanctions-evasion enablers — especially lower-level conduits outside Russia — to do the right thing.

The harder that sanctions bite Russia, the more it tries to dodge them. The Kremlin’s evasion networks now span the globe, evading the long arm of American law. Faced with widespread evasion, Washington ought to admit that government enforcement can pierce only so far into the shadowy world of Russian sanctions-dodging. Instead of relying solely on traditional enforcement tools, it should leverage the power of whistleblowers. Thankfully, there is an easy way forward: Expand Rewards for Justice, a long-standing State Department program that gives cash for tip-offs.

Read the full article from War on the Rocks.

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