They are limiting war production and weakening Russia's industrial base.
I think a secondary goal of the sanctions, maybe even a primary one, is to deter future aggression by China.
Their effect on civilian living standards probably does matter in that respect, even if they're unlikely to turn Russian public against Putin. The legitimacy of every government depends on economic performance to some extent, but I think more so in China than in Russia. Beijing will be watching the situation very carefully, and that's a good thing.
Also it doesn't help Russia that Rostec has been busy cannibalizing the defense budget for years in an orgy of corrupt self-dealing by Putin's intel buddies.
Never underestimate the ability of a mafia-state to get in its own way as well.
It would be better to compare economy growth in RU before the war (+4%) with growth after the war started (minus 6%). Or compare forecast for 2022 for Russia with Saudi Arabia ( +8%! )
Interesting but ultimately unconvincing.
1) Right off the bat, this narrative relies a lot on waving off justifications that were, in fact, given for the sanctions and specific claims about how they would work. A credible case that "Russian sanctions are working" should at least in part seriously grapple with what the President, his Cabinet, and leading Members of Congress said about why they were imposing sanctions and their intended effect. Immiserating the proverbial babushka and stoking a revolt of Russian kleptocrats were explicitly invoked as goals of the sanctions regime. Perhaps we have reached the conclusion that those goals were fundamentally unserious, mistaken, or misguided, but they should be reckoned with nonetheless, since they constituted a significant part of the public justification for these measures.
2) A convincing case would also need to grapple with the effect of sanctions on the West and the broader world economy, not just Russia. What exactly have we accomplished by hamstringing one of the world's largest economies? How has that reordered the global economy? How should we weigh those effects against the supposed impact on Russian domestic military production? Is it sustainable to maintain those sanctions (e.g. through the coming winter)? And what political effect are the consequences of these sanctions having on the Western capitals that championed them at the outset (e.g. how many governments will fall and change hands by the first anniversary of the war)?
3) As the piece acknowledges, the truth about Russian domestic military production is a closely held secret, which makes it particularly shaky ground upon which to stake a defense of Russian sanctions. How much do we really know about how sanctions have impacted military production? Are car imports and domestic automobile production really suitable proxies for evaluating the effect of sanctions? Given the fog of war, secrecy, and war-time propaganda from all sides, how confident are we in the nebulous claims cited about negative effects on Russian military production?
Would love to hear more on any of the above.
This is a great analysis. Don't show to Rod Dreher though! ;) Of late you have been on a China-hate stream. Hopefully you will admit Russia is a greater threat than China (probably even for the next 10-20 years, especially if China's economy does not do well under Xi.) And that doing less trade with Russia makes more sense than doing less trade with China. Dreher and Tucker think the opposite, which has nothing to do with race...
You write that the only sanctions that really matter are the restrictions of Russian imports (technology, chips, parts, etc.) and that these sanctions are working.
Why, then, continue the sanctions on Russian exports (oil and gas, fertilizers, other raw materials)? These seem to be at worst causing and at best exacerbating the primary problems the West faces right now, namely inflation and high energy prices/energy shortages in Europe. Additionally, the knock-on effects are energy and food shortages in poorer countries as the U.S. and Europe secure supply that would have gone to these countries. The collateral damage of the sanctions regime goes beyond just the U.S. and Europe.
Finally, the sanctions on Russian exports are causing the U.S. to take actions like drawing down the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, putting our own national security in a more risky position.
We've had 6 months to gauge the impact sanctions are having. It seems to me there is no shame in making adjustments on the fly and being more precise in our actions. Indeed, if we can roll back sanctions that are causing harm to West (Russian energy exports), then we have better odds of staying united, for longer.
The problem with sanctions against Russia is that, Russia can live months, if not years without Boeing/Airbus parts, but Europe cannot live one day without Russian gas. It's a form of power asymmetry.
We are very used to thinking that countries that rely on resource extraction are "third world", "exploited", "peripheral". It is not really the case. And a "Saudi Arabia with nukes" is very formidable [Even the one without nukes is hard to deal with, as Biden just found out]. In fact an alliance of commodity exporters, like what happened in the 1970s [and Putin is actively trying to forge], is a grave threat to the human civilization. There's no reason why we have to tolerate all the industrial output and scientific progress of the world being choked by the Tsar in Kremlin, religious fanatics in Iran, murderous princes in the Gulf, and the "socialist" dictator in Venezuela. Enough is enough.
On the ideological front, we must forget about the "first-word vs third-world, core vs peripheral" propaganda [Russia has a GDP PPP per capita of $30K!!], and reconsider why is it considered morally justified for a country, instead of mankind, to own the resources in its territory. The oil-poor countries in the Middle East have long whined about the oil-rich countries not spreading their oil wealth equally to the entire Muslim world, but they do have a point. A world that accepts national sovereignty over its natural resources is practically incentivizing imperial expansion and genocide, like Putin is doing, as the amount of natural resources is generally proportional to the area of the land.
On the practical front, it is simply insane that the machines and software that the West exported to Russia do not have any "kill switches" embedded into them. These kill switches should have been enabled right on Feb. 24, and all the computers with Windows/Mac operating system become bricks. They are necessary countermeasures against Putin's arbitrary threats to do "maintenance" on the gas pipes and thus level the asymmetric sanction playground. It's like a nuke-less version of MAD.
> For Electronic copy available at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4167193 52 example, the Russian tank producer Uralvagonzavod has furloughed workers
I think you copied some boilerplate text from the PDF that shouldn't be here.
> it can’t don that nearly as much
Necessity is the mother of invention. So in the short and probably medium term we've made a short war in Ukraine into a long drawn out affair. To do this we've shined a glaring light on Russia's weak points so they can now set about fixing them because to not is an existential crises. Essentially we are teaching Russia how to be more self sufficient. BTW... I think we all know Russians are smart. There weakness has always been brutality and a lack of trust in one another. It seems we're doing our best to fix that I guess.
“The only purpose of sanctions that makes any logical sense is this...”. What about the purpose of allowing American companies (and their foreign partners) to swoop in and pick up the business that Russia is losing via the sanctions? If Europe moves away from Russian dependency on energy, someone is going to pick up that business. Not to mention the increase in Western energy company profits this year, driven in part by the sanctions against Russia. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/oil-companies-record-profits-2022-exxon-chevron/
You are a bit too focused on the present. Well planned sanctions must hurt the average Babushka badly. True, it is a bit cruel and it is not going to stop this war. But it will be a powerful deterrent against the next war. The rule based world order that the western countries support is all about having rules for the future. Starting an aggressive unprovoked war means terrible suffering for the aggressor's citizens is a very good and effective rule.
You could have written - causing human suffering is not the point, but sanctions are going to cause a lot of it.
What is so frustrating though is Putin's power to just turn off the gas. But better news came yesterday thst Germany has managed to store nearly 80 per cent of its capacity which is about 3 months supply.
There was a large drop in natural gas October future prices as a result. Around 30 percent. Hopefully this drop will be sustained or increase. The main economic issue in Europe is the cost of living crisis. There are different policy solutions on offer.
I am sorry but your article is biased. Russia is entirely capable of import substitution in the long run. Sanctions imposed after its Crimea invasion led to more import substitution. Also remember, you have no idea about its military numbers. Your article itself admits as much. Such casual suppositions harm the integrity of your piece. Finally, remember as winter approaches, Europe's view on Russia will dramatically change. Already France/socialists in Germany/many experts all over are suggesting that a negotiated solution is going to be better for them. It is only the US which appears to be relatively unaffected by Russia. It is the only one pushing ahead. Very soon, it could find itself isolated