Historically, sanctions have failed to achieve any political goals. It is the worst weapon that the modern and contemporary international system has produced. Every time when sanctions were imposed, it was the people who paid the price, while these sanctions failed to harm the leaders and officials in the targeted countries.

With the beginning of the Russian war on Ukraine, a series of Western sanctions are being slapped on the Russian side, and that has covered almost all fields. This is up to the extent that one of the Western universities canceled a lecture on Tolstoy on the pretext that he was a Russian!

The Western nations wished that their sanctions would be so crushing and thus deal a fatal blow to the Russian economy, and hence they have frozen Russian deposits as well as Russian assets abroad, leaving no room for the Western hand to reach unless it was punished.

The worst scenario was the attempt to isolate Russia from the global banking payment system called SWIFT (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) as this makes import and export a very complicated affair even though it would be possible. The Russian economy absorbed the first blow, despite the sagging ruble, but it quickly recovered, and even achieved higher gains than before the war.

The obvious question that must be asked by Western circles: what is the purpose of these sanctions? The answer, as presented by Western politicians, is twofold: the first is the weakening of the Russian economy, which affects the stability of the Putin government and undermines confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Russian street.

However, the results of these sanctions were counterproductive and the proportion of opponents of the war is very small on the Russian street, and President Putin’s popularity is on the rise. The second aspect is the effect on the Russian war machine. It is true that there were many difficulties experienced by the Russian forces, especially in the beginning of the war, and the failure to capture Kiev, and this forced the Russian leadership to change its military plans.

But this has nothing to do with the Western sanctions. Rather, the armed forces, like the Russian economy, have regained their solidity and seemed more capable of achieving breakthroughs and steady military progress. This does not mean victory in the war, but it means that the Russian forces were not affected by the aforesaid sanctions.

The Western sanctions on Russia made the supply of Ukrainian grain a very difficult issue, even if it was done in relatively small quantities, and Russia's isolation from the SWIFT regime made the supply of Russian grain no less difficult. If we know that both countries export 30 percent of the grain worldwide, it can be understood that the food crisis that the world is beginning to suffer from, and which threatens impending famines that might afflict a large number of the third world countries, even though these countries have no part in the Ukrainian war or in the conflict between the West and Russia.

The worst is that the European societies themselves have begun to suffer from the rise in the prices of essential goods, as the prices of fuels increased by up to 40 percent, and this led to a rise in most essential goods, especially foodstuffs.

After the experience of the past months, the Western sanctions on Russia are like those who shoot themselves in the feet. In fact, Moscow has benefited from sanctions on the energy sector. What it was unable to export was compensated by the rise in oil prices. It is clear that the West must change its strategy, and this can only be done by bitterly admitting that it has failed miserably in its policy of imposing sanctions against Russia.

 

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