These Russia Sanctions Are Different

CAMBRIDGE – The surprising potency of the multilateral sanctions imposed on Russia has been exceeded only by that of Ukrainians’ resistance to Russia’s invasion of their country. True, it is difficult to imagine that sanctions will bring the Russian economy to its knees faster than Russian troops are able to capture Kyiv or lay waste to the country. But, ultimately, Russia will lose much in this war.

Back in December, US President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that severe sanctions in response to a Russian invasion of Ukraine would impose “a terrible price.” Yet, many viewed these threats as exaggerated bluster.

One can see why. At least since the turn of the century, US presidents have had a poor record when it comes to matching word and deed in foreign policy. There were even more grounds for skepticism regarding warnings from Europe. Germany, for example, had spent the preceding decade increasing its reliance on Russian energy. And the Western sanctions triggered by Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea failed to have the desired effect.

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