Russian Resilience in the Face of Intense Economic Sanctions

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.


3 thoughts on “Russian Resilience in the Face of Intense Economic Sanctions

  1. It is interesting that your final thought be that a weaker economy might lead to incentives for Russia to pursue conflicts with its neighbors in order to seize resources. It’s a logical conclusion based on the theories of diversionary wars and the rally around the flag effect but I don’t know how much I agree with this notion that weakening Russia’s economy will increase their incentive. The other day in class we discussed Leeds and Davis’ article about how domestic vulnerability may or may not lead to international disputes. Their conclusion was that a weaker economy may actually lead to fewer opportunities for a country to become aggressive and pursue such conflicts. Or rather that a country with a growing economy has more opportunities to pursue aggressive behavior and that because of this they may be just as likely to do so as when they are in economic decline. That being said do you think that such an analysis still applies or that it may not apply as well for Russia because of other factors including Putins leadership and history in the region?


  2. I agree with tcohen, I understand the point that you are trying to make, but I would have to say although Russia’s army might be powerful they states lacks the economy to back these soldiers. This hence the reason that there has been so much rebels reacting to the economic downturn of Russia at this moment. I do believe that Russia with its weakening economy will look for resources anywhere, especially if it is in a weaker country. I also believe that at this time Russia is looking over all its possible choices, possibly in fair of more sanctions against them.


  3. Basically Russia is going to continuously expand and conquer more territory because of its economic status? I see some potential in this theory, being that there are large amounts of resources in some of these territories, and the fact that Russia certainly doesn’t want the other Western powers to gain the upper hand and loosen their grip on these territories regardless of sanctions. For the time being, at least. If they do not do something about the economic situation and gain more resources soon, something might have to give.


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