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Western Sanctions Against Russia: Are They Working?

Is the world with me?

This is one of the many thoughts that Ukrainian soldiers likely have as they head to the battlefield, carrying their weapons and leaving behind their loved ones. As Russia continues its atrocious invasion of Ukraine, the rest of the world continues to do the only thing they can to bring the end of the war closer, which is to enforce harsh economic sanctions in hopes of eradicating Russia’s ability to continue to wage the war. And so far, it has been working.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of neighboring country Ukraine, the entire world was in shock. As members of the North Atlantic Treaty Association (NATO) thought of ways to punish Russia for its cruelty, they came to the conclusion that economic sanctions would be the most favorable way to indirectly penalize the country. While many question whether or not these sanctions are actually effective, further research has shown that they are indeed disrupting the Russian Economy. From reduced imports of supplies to a decrease in oil and gasoline exports, there is an abundance of signs that show that these penalties are working. 

One notable sign that indicates that these sanctions are effective is Russian imports. “Since April, the country has lost half its imports. Manufacturing facilities that depend on imported components are struggling or facing a shutdown,” states Boris Grozovski of Wilson Center. Because of the 50% decrease, Russia faces a massive supply shortage, for everything from clothes to airplane parts. As Grozovski also mentions, manufacturing plants have reduced their production significantly, as they are not receiving any foreign supplies. This has greatly harmed the Russian economy, as, without the ability to import parts, they are unable to export products, thus significantly reducing their ability to make money. As stated by Jen Kirby, a writer at Vox, “The Biden administration has also indicated that certain sanctions are trying to squeeze Russia, eroding its ability to finance its war in Ukraine.” And this goal has been achieved, to a certain extent. As Russian companies continue to deal with losses in global markets, the country’s government is at a point where they must decide how much longer they want the chaos in their economy to continue. 

If a country is at war, they most certainly have weapons. And these destructive devices come from various manufacturing stations. Grozovski states how “Microchips and other electronic components from seventy different American and European firms have been found in Russian weaponry. Russian weapons factories say they have big problems with the lack of imported engines, microprocessors, compact and real-time data transmission systems, and optical and thermal imaging equipment.” Due to the shortage of parts that arms manufacturers are facing, they are unable to fulfill orders at a consistent pace. And, as everybody knows, if you have any hopes of winning a war, you need a massive supply of firearms. A decline in the production of weapons is an extremely large step forward in bringing the end of the war closer, showing yet again that the sanctions are doing their job. 

Russia is one of the largest exporters of oil and natural gas, and thus, it is a crucial part in the country’s ability to make a profit. Because of this, Western nations agreed that it would be strategic to drastically reduce the amount of energy that they purchase. According to Edward S. Verona, a writer at The Hill, “Oil production has already dropped by roughly 10 percent and is set for further setbacks.” In addition, Russia has penalized other countries by not selling them their oil, thus, in a way, “sanctioning themselves,” as they are reducing their own chances of making a profit. Verona mentions how Russia only has “a handful of buyers” remaining, as many countries have closed their ports to oil shipments. It is clear that the penalties against Russia are working, as they are preventing one of the largest exporters of oil in the world from selling their main product. 

For those who ask whether anything is being done to bring the end of the war closer, rest assured that the economic sanctions that are being enforced are most certainly making Russia think about its previous choices. With Russia’s economy in a desperate situation, the country’s government is in a place where they need to think about how much longer they will finance the war. And while the fighting has not ceased yet, thanks to these sanctions, there is an end in sight. To all the Ukrainians who have put their life on the line and have left their families behind to save their country, the world is with you. 

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