Speaking to reporters at a gathering of leaders from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS countries in Ufa, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the world to ban the use of punitive economic sanctions. Although Putin seeks to frame the use of sanctions as a tool of American imperialism, sanctions are a means for all sovereign governments to prevent their economies from supporting unsavory public policies of other nations.
Calling for the end of all economic sanctions is tantamount to Putin supporting efforts of Russian weapons manufactures who want to sell weapons to the Ukraine military or Chechen rebels, they can use them against the Russian People. Certainly, both Europeans and Americans would be against Western sales to the Nazis or the Islamic State. Not only does such unfettered free market access create a perverse incentive for weapons manufactures to engineer perpetual wars, using sanctions to block economic support of hostile bodies only makes sense.
Clearly, Vladimir Putin is attempting to appeal to the insecurities of rising economic powers Brazil, India, China, and South Africa. In essence, he hopes to drum up support from economically weaker countries that have long been susceptible to Western sanctions. Given the massive sanctions the West has imposed on Russia, Putin’s motivation is obvious. If not for Western sanctions, however, Putin would likely continue to focus on the benefits his countries derives from working with heavily sanctioned countries like Iran, which include benefits enjoyed by India and China as well.
Meanwhile, black South Africans have Western sanctions against the Apartheid government to thank for helping collapse the brutal regime. At the same time, Brazil, India, and South Africa all benefit from the West moving away from Russia and China, because it makes them far more attractive to Western capital. For China in particular, North Korea’s isolation due to Western sanctions has left the brutal Communist regime thoroughly dependent on Chinese influence. Demanding the end of punitive economic sanctions would only hurt China’s influence. It is also important to recognize Russia is the only global power actively trying to gain more influence over nuclear North Korea.
Beyond the inadvertent benefits of sanctions, sanctions also help prevent armed conflict. Instead of declaring war on Russia, for example, Western sanctions allowed the US and Europe to respond to Russia’s domineering behavior against Ukraine without the use of military might. In doing so, Western nations were able to make a clear statement that they would not accept Putin’s decision to seize Ukrainian territory Crimea and politically dominate its neighbors. Violence is still a part of the Ukraine Crisis, but sanctions have prevented the conflict from degenerating into a war between Russia and the entire West.
Aside from creating a buffer against war, sanctions make conflicts less destructive. When economies are intertwined, nations are at the mercy of governments that do not choose to respect the sovereignty and interests of others. Not only do sanctions help avoid armed conflict, they allow the national and global economies to become less dependent on disruptive governments. Consequently, sanctions help insulate nations and the global economy from the harmful effects of armed conflict. In other words, sanctions make war cost less.
Moreover, sanctions help make war the last alternative instead of the first. Civil exercises, such as politics, diplomacy, and sanctions, are all ways of avoiding armed conflict and other forms of violence. Quite frankly, it is the sovereign right of all nations to economically disengage from other nations for any given reason. Albeit not practical or wise in a globalized world, countries can sanction other countries over policy disputes as they see fit. In the case of United States and its block of allies, sanctioning is done to uphold the principles and norms of the International Community for the benefit of all nations and Peoples.
Read old posts