Are the sanctions against Russia by the West going to deter or damage Putin?

Analysts predict that Russia will suffer economic hardship from the enactment of strong sanctions. However, there is no way they will change the current course of events in Ukraine.

Are the sanctions against Russia by the West going to deter or damage Putin?

After months of threats the United States and its allies quickly moved to sanction Russia following President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to enter eastern Ukraine. President Joe Biden stated that this was "the beginning of an invasion by Russia."

Now, the question is whether these measures will be able to deter or damage the Russian leader who has brought Europe to the brink a new and devastating conflict.

The first round of Western sanctions was directed at large Russian banks and oligarchs who have close ties with the Kremlin. It also targeted a key pipeline, as well as a number of other individuals. Reports suggest that the European Union may unveil more.

However, while leaders from Washington, Europe, and Asia were able present a united front against Moscow’s aggression, analysts and officials say it is unlikely that the sanctions will deter Putin pursuing a large scale invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Michael McFaul, the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, stated that Putin is not concerned about Russia's stock market.

"He doesn’t care about the oligarchs who will be hurt by these sanctions." McFaul said McFaul also mentioned that he cares about his future in history, 30-40 years from now.

"If you commit an aggressive wrong act, there must be a response. But I think we're naive to think that the response will change his calculation.
Putin did not show any signs of backing away from the confrontation, despite the international backlash. Moscow stated that the long-anticipated Sanctions "cannot solve anything."

"It is difficult to imagine that Washington expects Russia to change its foreign policy under threat of restrictions," Anatoly Antonov (Russia's ambassador) said in a Tuesday night post to the Facebook page.

He stated that the United States would not be ignored, and its citizens will feel the full consequences of the price rise.

Fears of a war in Ukraine have raised concerns about widespread energy shortages, and global economic chaos.

Dmitry Medvedev , former Russian President, stated on Twitter Europeans can expect higher energy prices following Germany's action to halt regulatory approval for the vital Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Russia's preparations, including its accumulation of over $600 billion in international reserve funds, will help it weather the sanctions.

Analysts and Western officials believe that Russia will suffer economic hardship despite these bullish statements. However, they cannot change the current events on the ground where conflict seems increasingly likely.

Edgars Rinkevics, Latvia's Foreign Minister, stated on Tuesday that sanctions cannot stop Russia invading Ukraine. He said that they could hinder Russia's progress in the same manner as the Soviet Union did before its collapse.

McFaul says that sanctions have been ruled out by Biden. They are an important weapon to the West in fighting Russian moves. The U.S. and its allies can still go to the United States if the situation worsens by starting small.

McFaul stated Wednesday that McFaul had not yet thrown all the pieces they were planning, but that they anticipate that the invasion will escalate. He also said that they wanted to be prepared in case it does.

Ukrainian officials who have moved to create a emergency Wednesday have asked the West for tougher sanctions to respond quickly and not to allow further Russian aggression.

"Now, the pressure must be increased to stop Putin. Hit Putin's economy and his cronies. Do more. Hit hard. "Hit now," said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba via Twitter Wednesday morning.

While some Republicans in Congress criticize the U.S. sanctions they are also criticised by opposition politicians in London and other countries who claim the sanctions did not strike hard enough.

Brian O'Toole is a former Treasury Department official who is now a fellow at Atlantic Council. He said that it was encouraging to see the U.S. government and European governments present a united front. He expressed concern that Moscow might interpret these first steps as an indication that the West is still hesitant to pursue harsher sanctions.

He said that they would have an impact but that he was afraid Putin might conclude that the West doesn't have the stomach for significant measures.

O'Toole said: "I hope that he is wrong. It is clear that he does not intend to stop at taking the breakaway territories."

According to Tom Keatinge (director of the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, RUSI think-tank in London), tougher sanctions against those close to Putin may be the best way for America and its allies keep Putin under control.

He said, "At the moment, we are like a dog jogging along with us. We need to respond and move beyond."

"If we can get in front and make him see that there was a big hammer hit, then maybe we have a shot."


 

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