Since Russia’s initial annexation of Crimea, and their continued support of the rebels in Ukraine, the rest of the western world has been imposing economic sanctions against the Russians. While sanctions are a somewhat peaceful, and non aggressive way of punishing Russia’s actions against a sovereign nation, one could argue that the ramifications of these dismantling economic sanctions could in fact push Russia to a more aggressive and hostile state of being.
An already in debt and ailing Russian economy will soon be under pressure from the short term effects of intense sanctions by western nations. With this in mind, it is not out of the question to consider the consequences of such sanctions on the Russian economy. Diversionary war is a theme that was discussed in class and shows its prevalence in this matter. If incentive presents itself, Russian President Vladimir Putin could attempt to divert the public attention from the faltering economy towards war and aggression towards western allies, as well as Russia’s surrounding neighbors who are rich in resources. Known as the rally around the flag this strategy is often seen in comparison to diversionary wars in order to inspire public support and improve ratings for political leaders. It’s also worth noting that before the annexation of Crimea, Russia still endured economic hardships, and the involvement in Crimea and Ukraine with Russia increased Putin’s approval rating. Knowing this, it may not be out of the question for Russia to pursue further gains across borders.
When Crimea was annexed, in addition to the peninsula, Russia also gained control of possible underwater energy sources which effectively denies Ukraine the ability to process and develope these resources, and puts them in Russia’s hands. In the face of economic downturns and foreign sanctions, these kinds of acquisitions have the potential to improve the Russian economy, and gives good reason to garner public support in further territorial expansion surrounding Russia. Furthermore, though Russia’s economy is currently weak, it still possesses a large military that would be effective in taking control of surrounding resources and industrial facilities in neighboring countries.
It would be wise for politicians and policymakers to understand the long term ramifications of these intense sanctions on an already economically weak Russia. The long term effects on the deficient Russian economy could give Russia incentive to seize resources from their neighbors and create more conflict between bordering states with Russia.