Why sanctions on Russia will do no good

If you type in the word “sanctions” into the Google search bar, the phrase “sanctions on Russia” will likely show up

Maria Dubovikova
Maria Dubovikova
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If you type in the word “sanctions” into the Google search bar, the phrase “sanctions on Russia” will likely show up as one of the top drop down suggestions, as would “sanctions of Iran.”

The remarkable sanctions-punishment game, a hard power instrument, was used in the Cold War era used against third world states and is now being used against Russia which dared to question the world’s unipolarity.

The most recent sanctions affect the military and the energy and banking sectors, however the impact is debatable.

These sanctions have led the Russian government to resort to import substitution in an effort to minimize their impact on the economy, but this takes time. The banking sphere has resorted to a similar urgent crisis management plan.

A problem for the West is that Russians speak English (as it is widely taught in schools) and have access to the Internet where they can keep up with what the BBC and CNN say about them and their country

Maria Doubovikova

Although the sanctions will strike the economy and the incomes of ordinary people, the Russian government is now forced into implementing a hurried version of a plan for economic reform. Russian authorities faced a dilemma on how to make the economy less dependent, more versatile, and had to brainstorm on how to attract investment into Russia. Thanks to the sanctions, the problem seems close to being solved.

Taking into account the unique rise of nationalistic and patriotic feelings these months, feelings I have seen personally, there is a belief that people are ready to work hard without the need of incentives, as well as to spend their holidays traveling within Russia.

The mentality of the Russian people, according to historic examples, is very specific and is reflected in numerous folklore tales and proverbs. In my view, one mentality that is reiterated is if you do not push them, they will do nothing. So in some way, these sanctions are a convenient stimulus to develop and to get the lazy economic system and industry sectors to work.

Naturally, the sanctions will have an impact, but with no clear target or vision. In any case, these sanctions seem counterproductive and will hardly change Russia’s foreign policy in my view.

The Western media owes the new wave of sanctions against Russia to the federation’s supposed support of rebels in East Ukraine. The fact that the United Nations and other states have yet to produce solid proof that shows Russia’s support of the rebels, in my view, does not bother media editors or political circles who are nervous about Russia’s new foreign policy.

But the only novelty in this policy lies in movement from written and spoken words to concrete actions.

Recent articles in Western media circles question whether these sanctions will prove fatal for Putin and lead to a regime-change, this brings attention to on-going political harassment.

Sanctions go hand in hand with two other policies: NATO operations (i.e. its increased involment in Eastern Europe) and calls to “join the club.” British Prime Minister David Cameron is a mouthpiece for NATO’s involvement in the region. Cameron has stated that NATO should deploy weapons in Eastern Europe to combat the Russian threat and that Russia-NATO relations should be revised. Sure, Prime Minister Cameron seems to have forgotten that Russia had been repeatedly calling its partners to stop NATO from spreading towards its borders, in addition to calls to halt the deployment of a missile defense system, which was and still is a direct military threat to Russia.

NATO moves

Before the crisis, NATO members assured Russia that NATO’s expansion was just to secure the West from Iran, according to my understanding of the matter. Now that Iran seems to have been forgotten, everybody is calling for the strengthen of NATO against Russia.

This policy will lead Russia’s leaders to strengthen its military might in accordance with its national interests as they see menace in NATO, I feel.

At the same time, a German-European Union locomotive pushes non-E.U. countries to join anti-Russian sanctions, according to some media outlets. United States Secretary of State John Kerry tried to push the reset button with India, and India’s Prime Minister Modi, who was previously banned from entering the U.S., suddenly appeared to be a practical ally and is set to meet Obama.

Some sanctions against Iran have been mitigated and according to my private sources, American companies are returning to the Iranian market. When looked at from afar, sanctions would seem like an absolutely brilliant play, but the goals are dubious and the principles are far from fair.

A problem for the West is that Russians speak English (as it is widely taught in schools) and have access to the Internet where they can keep up with what the BBC and CNN say about them and their country. As for those who do not speak English well enough, some bloggers translate videos into Russian.

Conservative Russians watch state media, which I feel has no need to generate content for so-called “state propaganda,” as what Western politicians and journalists say is enough to shape a concrete opinion among the Russian masses. But to tell the truth, the criticism of sanctions and current Western policy that comes from within the U.S. and E.U. is also shared by Russia’s state media.

For experts, the current crisis is a complete nightmare, as it is always very hard to be heard while abroad on international conferences and business trips. It is also hard to appeal to logic while commentators still accuse experts of espousing “the Kremlin’s propaganda.” This crisis does not add much love to West-Russia relations.. What is more terrifying is that this deterioration in relations adds to an already unstable international community on the brink of collapse.


Maria Dubovikova is a co-founder of IMESClub (International Middle Eastern Studies Club), IMESClub Executive Director and member of the Club Council, author of several scientific articles and participant of several high level international conferences. She is a permanent member of the Think-tank under the American University in Moscow. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia) (honors diploma), she had been working for three months as a trainee at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) in Paris. Now she is a PhD Candidate at MGIMO (Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia). Her research field is Russian foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, the policy of France and the US towards the Mediterranean, theory of international relations, humanitarian interventions and etc. Fluently speaks and writes in French and English. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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