Are sanctions against Russia working? How Russian government has responded to UK, EU and US sanctions

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A raft of sanctions have been imposed on the country since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February

Russia is under pressure after heavy hitters such as the UK, US and EU placed severe sanctions on businesses and individuals.

Restrictions were placed on Russia after they took the decision to invade Ukraine and wage war on cities and towns.

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The move shocked the international community, with NATO nations and others hitting back against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But why were sanctions used, and are they actually working to dampen President Putin’s aggression to Ukraine?

What sanctions are imposed on Russia?

Economic restrictions in place include the inability for businesses or banks to access the Sterling currency, effectively icing them out of the UK market, and Russian oligarchs have had their assets frozen.

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Similar sanctions have been introduced by the US and EU, however there are more oligarchs targeted by these two compared to the UK.

The UK has been heavily criticised for its apparent reluctance expand the sanctions list to include more elite Russian business leader.

Russia’s main banks have also been banned from using the SWIFT international banking system.

This will isolate them from overseas markets, as the banks will not be able to communicate securely and finalise transactions with those outside of the country.

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Russia has also been excluded from many cultural and sports events, such as FIFA and UEFA football competitions, Beijing Paralympics and the Eurovision Song Contest.

Why have sanctions been used?

When the first round of sanctions were announced, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson described them as “the largest and most severe sanctions package Russia has ever seen” in an attempt to “squeeze Russia from the global economy”.

His comments were echoed by US President Joe Biden, and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

But why haven’t countries taken military intervention in Ukraine?

Firstly, Ukraine is currently not a NATO nation.

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NATO is a defence alliance in which the members agree to an allyship against any aggression towards a member state.

This means that if a NATO state is attacked, all members will be pulled into defend the country.

Despite currently being an aspiring member of NATO, Ukraine is currently not granted this protection as it has not completed full membership.

If any NATO countries - including the UK, US or some EU states - were to directly intervene in Ukraine, this would be seen as NATO aggression against Russia, which in turn would leave all member nation open to attack.

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Therefore, countries have so far used sanctions to try to hurt Russia in the conflict, with many regarding this as the last way to dampen aggression before military intervention.

Are the sanctions against Russia working?

Russia’s economy has already taken a huge hit as a result of economic sanctions.

The Russian rouble has fallen 30%, leading to a massive jump in inflation, as well as the cost of living spiking.

As a result, Russian citizens rushed to high street banks to withdraw their money, leaving the institutions in a vulnerable position.

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Sanctions expert Reid Whitten explained that the scale of sanctions which are currently imposed on the country “can bring the government and its people to their knees”.

He added: “I don’t see a way that Russia continues to be functional in a matter of weeks when they are so isolated from the international system.”

However, many have stated that the sanctions are not bothering President Putin, who is pressing ahead with the violent attempted takeover of Ukraine.

The Russian leader urged Western nations to “not escalate the situation” - Russia has not directly referred to the movement of troops into Ukraine as an “invasion”, instead calling it a “special military operation”.

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He said: “There are no bad intentions towards our neighbours. And I would also advise them not to escalate the situation, not to introduce any restrictions.

“We do not see any need here to aggravate or worsen our relations. And all our actions, if they arise, they always arise exclusively in response to some unfriendly actions, actions against the Russian Federation.”

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