Is there still more room for more sanctions from the West against Russia? The United States and the European Union have already imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Russia in response to various issues such as the annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Ukraine, human rights concerns, cyber-attacks, and other geopolitical tensions. To me, it seems like they exhausted all the room for further sanctions, but is it still the case, is there something the U.S. could do to further sanction Russia?
- There is still remaining trade between Russia and the West, and this could be banned.
- There could be "secondary sanctions" (i.e. sanctions against countries and entities which are still trading with Russia).
Both would seriously affect the economies of the West. For instance, Europe is still importing oil and gas from Russia in 2023. And both the US and EU are trading with China and India, which are buying from Russia.
The real problem is that the West is no longer the site of as much real industrial production, and is comprised much more of a rentier economy than in the past.
Large multinationals like Unilever have pointed out that their "withdrawal" from Russia would simply mean abandonment of their rights of profit. Russia would seize their factories, their machinery, their records, and their workers (and the embedded know-how those workers have) - the Western owners would not, in any real way, be able to withdraw anything, because the Russian state will step in to stop them doing so.
So whilst the West can still go further in refusing to do business with Russia, they would simply be like a customer trying to boycott a supermarket - in terms of relative strength. Or a vampire boycotting the victims, in terms of relative consequences.
Secondary action against India and China - who each have strong and long-standing affinities with Russia, and quite some shared antipathy towards Western imperialism, and are certainly helping Russia to resist the effects of sanctions imposed so far - would mean the West taking on almost the entire engine room of the world and a third of the global population at once.
The early assumption seemed to be that Russia would have already somehow folded from the existing round of sanctions - perhaps through inducing internal political instability and population exodus, if not directly due to the sanctions.
A lot of people also seemed to believe that Russia was so deeply corrupt and undemocratic that simply hitting it's oligarchs would immediately lead to Putin being purged and a Western-friendly government being quickly installed.
Yet by all informed analysis of Russian politics, the loss of Putin would not lead to a more West-friendly regime at all, but to an even more hardline regime more prepared to use nuclear weapons.
In the event nothing has occured so far on the back of sanctions. I don't think any further sanctions directly against Russia will change the situation.
We could well be seeing the very moment of the West revealed as what Mao called a "paper tiger".