October 23, 2020

Make Russia Sanctions Effective Again

By Edward Fishman

All effective sanctions programs are alike. Each ineffective sanctions program is ineffective in its own way. Effective sanctions programs seek to achieve clearly articulated aims through a combination of economic pressure and a credible offer of relief. Ineffective sanctions suffer from a boundless range of maladies, from convoluted goals to overpoliticization. Their only commonality is that they satisfy U.S. officials’ urge to do something without necessarily advancing American interests.

Ineffective sanctions suffer from a boundless range of maladies, from convoluted goals to overpoliticization.

Today, U.S. sanctions against Russia are ineffective. The sanctions created by the administration of President Barack Obama — which presented Russia with a united U.S.-European front, knocked several points off the country’s gross domestic product, and may have deterred Moscow from more aggressive action in Ukraine — remain on the books. But Russia’s economy has adapted, and the Kremlin now subscribes to a narrative that the United States will “never” lift sanctions, reducing its incentive to satisfy U.S. demands. The result is a feckless sanctions program that no longer exerts meaningful pressure on Moscow — and affords Washington minimal diplomatic leverage.

Read the full article in War on the Rocks.

  • Podcast
    • August 2, 2022
    The Cost of Economic War

    Sanctions, not bombs, have been the weapon chosen to take on the Putin regime. BBC speaks with macroeconomist Rachel Ziemba about the effectiveness of modern economic statecra...

    By Rachel Ziemba

  • Podcast
    • March 15, 2022
    What would happen if Russia defaults on its debt?

    Adjunct senior fellow Elina Ribakova speaks to Marketplace about how Russia's economic isolationism may largely insulate global markets should Russia default on its debts. Li...

    By Elina Ribakova

  • Podcast
    • March 3, 2022
    Sanctions and Export Controls Explained: What's going on with Russia

    The United States and its allies have released an unprecedented and sweeping set of sanctions and export controls in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This includes bl...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Richard Fontaine, Edward Fishman, Elina Ribakova & Emily Kilcrease

  • Reports
    • January 14, 2021
    Sanctions by the Numbers: 2020 Year in Review

    Sanctions designations remained high in 2020, with 777 designations compared to 785 in 2019....

    By Sam Dorshimer & ​Francis Shin

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia