Bloomberg had an article today about the sanctions titled “U.S. Stuck with Nobody Left to Sanction in Russia Over Syria”.
The “analyst”, by the way, is Michael Kofman, from the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute in Washington.
Kofman told Bloomberg:
“While the president has full sanction authority, there’s nobody left to sanction in Russia besides the janitor in the Kremlin. In terms of expanding any kind of commercial or financial sanctions, we’re basically maxed out.”
The sanctions are not working. There are multiple reasons for this. Firstly, it is still unclear what the end goal of the sanctions is. Is it to prevent further Russian encroachment in Ukraine? Is it to force Russia to leave Crimea? Is it to oust the Russian government, and Putin specifically? We just do not know. It has never been made clear. Equally, it has not been made clear to the Russian government what they have to do to have the sanctions repealed.
Another reason the sanctions are not working is because there is no enforcement of them. I have yet to hear a story about someone’s bank account being frozen because of the sanctions. And the travel ban has been proven to be a joke on multiple occasions. See for example this story published in September about presidential advisor Vladislav Surkov violating his EU travel ban to visit Mt Athos in Greece, or Surkov’s more recent trip to the EU to take part in the Normandy talks.
Thirdly, for all our talk, we do not know who the real decision makers are in the Kremlin. It seems as if the US State Department had a list previously drawn up, and just went with it, without doing any real research.
And finally, we are turning a blind eye to the Russian Regime’s intentions. Western politicians and pundits have bought into this myth that the adventurism displayed by the Regime is to protect the personal wealth and power of the elites. But if that were true, wouldn’t they have retreated from the supposed threat the sanctions have placed on their personal wealth?
There are other options besides individual sanctions. There are also other options besides going “nuclear” and cutting Russia off from SWIFT. But to dismiss the current trajectory as “maxed out” is at the very least disingenuous.