US and EU have sanctioned Putin today. Although the reasons are clear, based on my limited understanding this seems more like a symbolical gesture.

Here is why it seems to me like this:

  • I doubt that he personally needs money (or even remembers how they look like). He is one of the most powerful people in the world and as long as he remains in power, he has anything he needs
  • In comparison to russian oligarchs (whos assets are still hard to track), Putin's assets outside of Russia are probably extremely hard to find. And the assets in Russia are beyond the reach.

So my question is: what are the real implications of those sanctions besides showing a clear message to smaller fish in his surrounding (If we are going for a big guy, we are clearly serious), somehow hurt his ego.

I have seen this question What does it mean in practice that Putin and Lavrov will be personally on EU's sanctions list? and do not think it answers my question

  • (+1) That's an interesting way to phrase the question: Symbols do mean something, that's even what they are for. Now, if those particular santions achieve anything else than having meaning, I don't know.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 28, 2022 at 14:48

2 Answers 2


It accomplishes primarily 3 things.

  • It provides incentive to the aggressor to stop, with the implicit promise that the sanctions will be rolled back if they do. Hence it is a way to gain additional leverage over the aggressor. The size of that leverage and how much of an incentive it really provides, is up for debate.
  • It's a way for politicians and other people to act like they're acting without actually doing something drastic, such as military intervention or more drastic sanctions (ones that would also hurt the sanctioning part, i.e. think of gas prices). This is why you've heard more about what's going to happen to football games or F1 races, than you have about what the world plans to do about Russian gas dependency. Because it's about coming off as being anti-Russian and showing solidarity with Ukraine - not about actually being so.
  • It's hurts the sanctioned party and destabilizes their economy and infrastructure. This can potentially lead to a political upset, causing a new governing party to be established in that country, one that may be more friendly to the rest of the world.
  • The last point sounds very opinion based.
    – convert
    Feb 26, 2022 at 12:11
  • I disagree with point 3 as that all depends on where they have their money and how much planning they did for the sanctions.
    – Joe W
    Feb 26, 2022 at 15:49
  • @convert, the last point is strongly supported by talks of EU leaders, which appeal to Russian citizens, they are basically ask Russians to change their government.
    – klm123
    Feb 27, 2022 at 8:32
  • 1
    @convert the idea is to make Russians not like their government, if they are mature enough to do so. Feb 27, 2022 at 15:04
  • 1
    @MrVocabulary This strange western logic is not working in Russia, like it´s not working in any country under western sanctions.
    – convert
    Feb 28, 2022 at 11:22

this seems more like a symbolical gesture

It's not just symbolic. There are real restrictions of his freedom. All the things that are sanctioned are now really denied to him. He can do less than he could do before. That is a real effect.

What you seem to ask is how much Putin does actually care about them? Well that nobody can answer with certainty, except Putin himself. And in particular his wealth that may now be frozen, nobody knows how much it is, so the effect of that is completely unknown and we should not pretend otherwise.

I agree that the personal sanction does not take away Putin's ability to be Russia's strong men and influence Russia's fate and wreak even more havoc potentially. In that way it's not really very effective, but that would probably be asked for too much from sanctions.

So, if anyone says that the personal sanction of Putin will have a big impact, you would have all reason to be very skeptical about it.

As a summary: This sanction is partly symbolic and the real impact on Putin is difficult to say. It may be very low but is definitely not zero. We will never know for sure.

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