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.

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