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Russia Can Easily Survive, Perhaps Even Thrive, Isolated From the West

Sanctions are highly unlikely to topple Putin. And if not, what then?
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Image courtesy of Eurointelligence.

Image courtesy of Eurointelligence.

Sanction History 

Sanctions did not topple regimes in Cuba, Iran, or Venezuela. Nor did Trump's sanctions on China or his much ballyhooed trade deal accomplished anything. 

Why will sanctions do the trick here?

De-Westernizing Russia

Please consider De-Westernizing Russia by Eurointelligence founder Wolfgang Münchau.

Yesterday’s news was that MacDonalds, a totem of US culture, will temporarily close its restaurants in Russia. Visa and Mastercard already left, as did many western fashion brands Russians got so used to. Foreign correspondents left. Outside Russia, western companies will think twice before doing business with Russia today. Russians are encouraged to settle their debt with western creditors in much-depreciated roubles, a quid-pro-quo response to the central bank freeze of Russian reserves. What if the war in Ukraine, as painful and violent as it is, is only the catalyst for a much bigger operation: the de-westernisation of the Russian society?

The rouble payback encouragement is reminiscent of what Hjalmar Schacht, Adolf Hitler’s central banker did with reparations payments. There are eerie parallels with the pre-world war two era. We may ridicule this now, but the Nazi invocation has a psychological impact that could soon grow to have its own life. It taps into old resentments and memories, and fosters a war mentality. It prepares people for the sacrifices that are necessary to emerge victorious out of this.

Our sanctions may help Putin spin this narrative further. Russia can survive, and even thrive, isolated from the west. Economically, politically and socially, it has enough resources to do so in the long run. Our sanctions allows Putin to sever the links with our economies and seek new alliances. It allowed him to impose emergency laws at home, and to purge the opposition. He already controls most of the information flow and the narratives of the war. Most Russians are unaware that a war is already happening in Ukraine and that Russia is the aggressor. The media portrays the military operation as a response to Ukrainian and western aggression.

Increasing the sphere of influence internally and externally is what Putin is after. We may think that our sanctions and boycotts will hurt him as he stands isolated from the west. But it strengthens his power with all those who are on his side. Syria is already in his debt and supports him politically and physically, including with soldiers for urban warfare. Then there are historic allies such as Cuba and South Africa. There is Venezuela. And there is China, which is looking at how to play this new economic opportunity to its advantage. Then there is India calibrating a neutral position, while Israel and Turkey are both eager to mediate in this war. Autocrats in the Middle East are on stand by mode. Then there are tactical moves like the one in Saudi Arabia, which refused the US request to increase its oil production, securing higher oil prices that comes to benefit Russia. What unites those autocratic leaders in the Middle East/North Africa region is an anti-US sentiment and a desire to end or at least curtail US dominance.

Can Russia Thrive?

Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba survive but don't thrive. But none of them have ample food supplies and none of them share a border with China. 

Russia has surplus grain, surplus energy, and surplus metals that every country wants, especially China. 

China will gladly take Russia's natural gas, oil, and food. In return, Russia gets superior 5G technology and parts from the US, Japan, or EU via China. 

Thrive is an overstatement, but perhaps not by much. 

Numerous countries have dictators who outlived major sanctions for years despite those countries lacking the natural resources of Russia and also lacking a border with a country willing to ignore US sanctions. 

More Sanctions

The EU announced more sanctions yesterday, mainly on banks an oligarchs. 

So what? 

After the Fed effectively confiscated Russia's foreign reserves, there are no more meaningful economic measures the US or EU can take that do not hurt the EU more than Russia.

The EU still has not followed the US in banning Russian oil. Germany and Hungary won't cooperate. 

The US made a mockery of Poland but telling the country to get MIGs to Ukraine then backpedaling when Poland said OK. 

Increase Energy Supply? Where? 

Green asininity is such that Biden prefers other countries to produce more rather than the US. 

It's a mystery how we are supposed to get LNG to Germany with the Greens wanting to shut down natural gas development immediately.

Elizabeth Warren's solution is a windfall profits tax on oil. That will surely help supply, right? 

Dictators Don't Worry About Elections

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Unlike US politicians who have to keep everyone happy every two to six years, dictators have no such concerns.

Biden cannot even take a modest increase in gas prices without begging Venezuela and Saudi Arabi to pump more oil. 

What If?

It would have been better for everyone involved for the US to not have gotten tangled up in this mess in 2014. 

It would have been better for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to rescind NATO a year ago than two days ago. 

"As far as NATO is concerned, I cooled down on this issue after we realized that NATO is not ready to accept Ukraine. The Alliance is afraid of contradictory things and confrontation with Russia," Zelensky said in ABC interview.

Now What? 

Russia cannot hold all of Ukraine. But it can take and hold pro-Russia regions closest to Russia.

But it's very difficult at this stage for the US, Putin, and Ukraine to all simultaneously back down now, especially given Putin's recent attacks on civilians.

Yet short of someone in Putin's inner circle taking Putin out, this sorry state of affairs can simmers for six months, six years, or even a decade.

Let's backtrack. It's important to understand the Real Background Story Behind Russia's Invasion of Ukraine.

Please click on that link to better understand why what's happening now is happening now.

That background no way justifies Putin's actions. 

Regardless, Ukrainians are nothing but pawns in an East-West power struggle the US certainly helped simmer.

As usual, US misery is temporary, and there will be no lives lost on US soil.  For Ukrainians and Russians who needlessly lost their property and lives, the loss is permanent. 

Looking ahead, everyone needs to stop the delusion that more sanctions will solve anything. 

Please note US Sanction Policy Drives China Into Russia's Loving Arms

Finally, blowback from misguided US foreign policy never ends. This time Ukraine is the unfortunate recipient.

This post originated on MishTalk.Com.

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