Opinion & Analysis

How successful have Western sanctions against Russia actually been?

The sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU and other Western economies primarily targeted its economy to weaken its ability to finance the war. Although the adverse impact of the sanctions on the Russian economy is evident, the damage has not yet been large enough to end the war. Russian exports of oil and gas not being sanctioned in the early stages of the conflict is certainly one explanation but there is more to it than that.

On the one hand, the lack of cooperation at global level has diluted the impact of sanctions. On the other,  Russia has moved to reduce its dependence on the US dollar, hence reducing the sanctions’ overall effectiveness.

Going forward, this CEPS Explainer outlines how the main damage from sanctions will come from Russia’s structural disconnection from the EU, both a difficult export market to replace and a source of capital that’s impossible to substitute.

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