Western nations finally realize – sanctions won’t weaken Russia


As tensions between Russia and the West continue to escalate, Western nations are beginning to confront a sobering reality: sanctions alone may not be enough to weaken Russia’s resolve. Despite concerted efforts to isolate and punish Russia through economic measures, recent developments indicate that these sanctions are increasingly proving to be ineffective and even counterproductive.

Until 2021, Russia ranked among top trading partners where two-way commerce in goods and services totaled €257 billion where European Union nations were mainly buying petroleum oil and gas from Russia. But, since Russia began Special Military Operations in Ukraine from February 2022, as the European Union nations and the United States imposed sanctions om Russia, EU nation’s buying refined oil from India has been significantly increasing. And of course, India has been buying crude oil from Russia and selling refined oil to the Western nations at comparatively higher price.

Data from Kpler shows that India became the top importer of Russian crude oil in 2023 with an average of 1.75 million barrels per day, making a 140 percent increase from 2022. The European Union’s import refined oil from India surged by 115 percent – from 111,000 barrels per day in 2022 to 231,800 barrels per day in 2023.

According to Center for Research on Energy and Clear Air (CREA), India leads five countries named as the “Laundromat” countries that buy Russian oil and sell processed products to European countries, thus sidestepping European sanctions against Russia.

The report accused Indian sellers and European buyers of possibly “circumventing sanctions” by selling crude products from a refinery in Gujarat that is co-owned by Russian oil company Rosneft.

“Price cap coalition countries have increased imports of refined oil products from countries that have become the largest importers of Russian crude. This is a major loophole that can undermine the impact of the sanctions on Russia”, said the report. European countries are simply substituting oil products they previously bought directly from Russia, with the same products now “whitewashed” in third countries and bought from them at a premium.

The CREA report said the most oil products were being exported from two ports in Gujarat: the Sikka port that services the Reliance-owned Jamnagar refinery, and the Vadinar port that ships oil products from Nayara energies, which is partly owned (49.13 percent) by Rosneft, alleging that this could constitute “circumventing sanctions” imposed unilaterally by the US and Europe.

“The port is of great value to the Russian oil industry, especially Rosneft”, the report said.

“This situation where a Russian company owns an oil refinery in a third country highlights a possible way of circumventing sanctions. Rosneft or other oil companies from Russia are free to transport crude oil to Vadinar, where it is refined and can be exported to the price cap coalition countries as oil products from India”, the report concluded, recommending that “place of origin” certification should accompany oil products sold to Europe.

These reports prove – while EU nations and the United States are continuing imposing sanctions on Russia hoping it would tame Moscow, in reality, those sanctioning nations are compelled in circumventing sanctions for the sake of their own interest – and are buying the same Russian products through a third country most definitely at a higher price. It’s not only India – few more nations, including Iran are also buying Russian crude oil and selling the same either as crude oil or refined oil at a higher price to the prospective buyers.

Meaning, western sanctions are not working on the United States. In fact, sanctions are gradually becoming toothless or paper tiger due to extreme abuse of it by the Western countries, especially the United States. Still, the West is continuing imposing sanctions on Russia as this is the only “weapon” it has now.

According to media report, in January 2024, the European Union introduced its thirteenth sanctions package against Russia. As the second anniversary of Ukraine has passed, policymakers even in the Western countries are asking – what was the achievement of sanctions on Russia except for compelling the sanctioning countries in buying their essential products such as petroleum oil from alternative sources at comparatively higher price.

Moreover, historical precedent suggests that economic sanctions rarely achieve their intended objectives, particularly against major powers like Russia. While sanctions may inflict short-term pain, they often fail to deter aggressive behavior or induce meaningful change in government policies. Past examples, such as sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the ayatollahs in Iran, highlight the limitations of economic coercion in altering state behavior.

In the case of Russia, sanctions have failed to deter President Vladimir Putin’s Special Military Operations in Ukraine or force a change in Russia’s strategic decisions. Instead, they have emboldened Putin’s resolve and reinforced anti-Western sentiment within Russia. Moreover, the unintended consequences of sanctions, such as the hardship imposed on ordinary citizens, raise ethical concerns about the efficacy of punitive measures.

As Western leaders grapple with the ineffectiveness of sanctions, they must reassess their approach to Russia and explore alternative strategies for addressing geopolitical challenges. Relying solely on sanctions risks further alienating Russia and exacerbating tensions, ultimately undermining efforts to achieve long-term stability and security in the region.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin in an exclusive interview to Rossiya 1 and RIA Novosti said, the era of Western elites being able to exploit other nations and other peoples across the world is coming to an end.

He stated that over the past few centuries, the so-called “golden billion” has grown accustomed to being able to “fill their bellies with human flesh and their pockets with money” as they have been “parasitizing” other peoples in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

“But they must understand that the vampire ball is ending”, Putin said.

He added that the citizens of the aforementioned regions, which have been continuously exploited by the West over the past 500 years, have started to associate Russia’s struggle for sovereignty with “their own aspirations for sovereignty and independent development”.

At the same time, Putin noted that Western elites have a very strong desire to “freeze the current situation” and preserve the “unjust state of affairs in international affairs”.

Previously, in his keynote address to Russia’s Federal Assembly last month, Putin stated that the West, with its “colonial habits” of “igniting national conflicts all over the world”, intends to do everything it can to stall Russia’s development and turn it, as it did Ukraine, into a dying failed state.

”In place of Russia, they want a dependent, withering, dying space, where they can do whatever they want”, Putin said.

President Putin followed up on those comments in Wednesday’s interview, stating that many Western elites, who have been “blinded by their Russophobia” were “thrilled” when they were able to push Russia to the point where it had to launch its military offensive in Ukraine in order to end the war unleashed by the West in 2014.

”They were even happy, I think, because they believed that now they would finish us off using a barrage of sanctions, having practically declared a sanctions war against us, and with the help of Western weapons in the hands of Ukrainian nationalists,” said Putin, suggesting that this mindset was behind Western calls to “inflict a strategic defeat on Russia on the battlefield”.

Now, the West appears to have realized that defeating Russia in this way is not only unlikely, but impossible due to the unity of its people, the fundamental foundations and stability of its economy and the growing potential of its military, the president said.

”Those who are smarter” have now come to the conclusion that it is necessary to change their strategy in relation to Russia, Putin surmised.

It may be mentioned here that in 1960, there were twenty active sanctions cases worldwide. By 2014, that number had reached 170. This sharp escalation indicates that past episodes did not seriously deter new offenders—neither countries that abused human rights, staged military coups, sought nuclear weapons, nor invaded their neighbors. After Russia retook Crimea in 2014, the tepid US-EU sanctions package hurt individual Russian firms and a few businessmen but did not have any adverse effect on Russia’s economy. Threats President Biden and European leaders voiced in the weeks before Russia’s Special Military Operations likewise had no impact. Instead, threats and sanctions had backfired and fallen flat.

The rehabilitation record since 1914 shows instances of success through economic sanctions but seldom in cases against major or even middle-sized powers.

Analysis by the Peterson Institute indicates that sanctions achieved some (rarely all) of the enactors’ foreign policy goals in just a third of cases since the First World War. However, successes are concentrated in sanctions against small countries with weak governments: Regime change in Chile in 1973 and the reversal of the Ivory Coast coup in 2000 are illustrative.

Contrary to those successes, strong sanctions against Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the ayatollahs in Iran did not change their territorial or nuclear objectives. Even against small countries, notably Cuba and North Korea, decades of sanctions have not yielded rehabilitation. Venezuela, under the grip of Nicolas Maduro, now threatens neighboring Guyana despite a multitude of US sanctions. For Ukraine, history records no instances where economic sanctions have rehabilitated the military goals of a major power—not Germany and its allies in the First World War, not Germany and Japan in the Second World War, not China in the Korean War, not the USSR in the Cold War, and not Russia in the Ukraine War.

US and EU sanctions have clearly inflicted misery on ordinary citizens. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been repeatedly saying – sanctions only push citizens of every country towards sufferings, while it also harms the sanctioning nations. We are aware of continuously sufferings of Americans and Europeans following the sanctions on Russia.

It must be asked whether retribution for its own sake accomplishes the military and economic aims of Washington and Brussels. Working-class people have no political power, and yet political elites threaten their livelihoods as part of a broader global power struggle. Russian, European, and American workers all have practically no say in the trade actions their leaders choose to enact, yet they bear the eventual consequences. Decades of research and historical insight attest to the harm inflicted by punitive sanctions. Western leaders should put time and effort into designing alternative policies to imposing punitive sanctions on targeted nations, although it is well-perceived that the influence of the Western nations is on fast decline whereas countries in the Global South already are emerging into powerful player in the world with its fastest growing economy.


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