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Sanctions on Russia are not working

Sanctions on Russia are not working

You may recall that President Biden said he would impose “crippling sanctions” on Russia if they invaded Ukraine.  You will also recall that he did not.  In fact, he has been very slow and measured in imposing sanctions on Russia – even as the Madman of Moscow has expanded his war and engaged in widespread war crimes.

As expected, Russian President Vladimir Putin has proven to be very resilient when it comes to sanctions.  One … because he can afford to be.  Sanctions have never been a game-changer when it came to discouraging bad behavior by authoritarian dictators.   And two … because the sanctions, themselves, are not doing what they we said to do.

Again, you need to recall how Biden and NATO were going to financially starve Russia by stopping the purchase of Russian oil.  They shut down the Nord Stream pipeline, but not the Druzhba Pipeline.  So far, Russian oil has been flowing into the market as much as ever.  Putin also got financial benefit when OPEC raised world oil prices.  The combination of not addressing the Druzhba Pipeline and restricting American production gave Putin $500 billion to fud his dirty little war.

That was a double blow to the United States because it not only gave Putin more oil income, but America at a price disadvantage because of Biden’s restrictive oil policies.  China has also reduced the impact of western sanctions by increasing its purchase of Russian oil.

Then there was the all-important computer chip supply chain.  Sanctioning Putin by cutting off sales of computer chips is more than a financial or domestic blow.  Those chips are essential to the conduct of the war.  Without them, Putin would be fighting a 21st Century war with 20th Century technology.

According to a report from Reuters New Service, the Biden sanctions have had no impact on the flow of essential computer chips to Russia.  While the major western producers no longer sell directly to Russia, some have set up new companies that ship to Russia.  Even NATO nations are engaging in bypassing the sanctions.  A German company established a business relationship with a company in Turkey that is shipping the computer chip to Russia – and they are not alone.

Sanctions will never work unless there is a means of enforcing them.  And that usually means military action.  That is not a new concept.  Germany attempted to stem the flow of American war equipment going to Great Britain in World War II by sinking the ships carrying the cargo.  In the past, the United States intercepted ships carrying banned weapons to rogue nations and terrorists.

(I recently recommended that the United States and NATO intercept shipments of Iranian drones heading to the war zone in Ukraine.)

It seems that the matter of sanctions – in addition to military aid to Ukraine – is always inhibited by Putin’s nuclear saber rattling.  This war will drag on – and Putin will win – unless the United States and allies provide Ukraine with the support and means necessary to win the war as defined by President Zelenskyy – the removal of Russian forces from all of Ukraine, including the Crimea.  Sanctions are not doing it – and they will not.  

The more time that goes by, the more Putin can develop new lines of supply.  There are innumerable opportunities between China, Iran and North Korea – as well as those western producers skirting the sanctions.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Joseph S. Bruder

    I think the sanctions have put a big dent in Putin’s ability to wage war. He’s running out of tanks. He has lost 110K soldiers (about the size of the initial attacking force.) The economy is Russia is tanking. Ukraine is tiny compared to Russia, but it’s still kicking Putin’s ass, and will continue to do so with Western support.

    What hasn’t been done is to completely cut off Russian exports. Europe still needs energy, and Russia is still the biggest exporter in the region and was supplying about 3% of the world’s oil and gas. India and China and a few other countries are still buying Russian oil. As spring approaches, European countries may decide to cut off Russia completely in hopes of a quicker end to the war. And maybe more pressure will be put on the other buyers as it becomes clear that Russia is losing the war. Pressure will be put on Iran, either diplomatically or militarily.

    Just this week, 3 of Russia’s leaders had untimely deaths (including two falling out of windows in the same hotel). That is a sign of desperation on Putin’s part. People will start to push back against Putin as the economy gets worse and more soldiers are fed to the senseless war. Sanctions are working, it’s been less than a year, and Russia is losing a war to a much smaller opponent. What more do you expect?

  2. Tom

    I agree with you in so far as US sanctions are not working as well as they should, but they are causing damage to Russia’s ability to prosecute its unjust war in Ukraine, specifically in the area of spare parts, technology, and to some degree financial – but financial is the least of Putin’s concern because he saved up plenty. However, the biggest sanction problem I see is that the USA and EU have not sanctioned many of the banks Russia uses. Here is a good list of who sanctioned what banks. Its easy to see where Russia is getting its money to prosecute the war. “”

    As for me, I no longer buy Russian products such as Smirnoff Vodka or caviar. And to Florida’s credit, I found a great caviar supplier right in FL!

  3. 9mm

    Has anyone thought that Biden and Putin have planed this failure out and approved by China is the true reason it’s like it now is?

    • Joseph S. Bruder

      Now THAT is one hell of a Q-sized conspiracy theory. It just makes no sense.

      It does the US or Biden no good to fight and/or support a war with Russia. It causes rising gas prices and inflation in the US and the entire world. It costs the US a lot of money that could be spent on better things. It makes Biden less popular, even though he organized the international resistance against Putin and has done everything he can for Ukraine. Republicans used the economy as a bludgeon in the las telection (mostly unsuccessfully). I suppose the defense industry likes it, but it hurts everyone else.

      Russia is basically broke now. Their economy went to shit. He’s lost 110K+ soldiers, and that makes for a lot of unhappy mothers and wives and children. People are protesting where they can. His military is about 80% destroyed. Some of the other old-Soviet satellite countries are starting to snub Russia and it won’t be long before they start to break away from Russia. He has no money or access to technology to replace his war machine.

      China has given some tacit approval because Russia is a fellow Communist country, and China doesn’t want a precedent in international law when they try to do the same thing to Taiwan that Russia is doing to Ukraine. Plus, China is using the war to its advantage by stirring up some problems with some of the Russian satellite countries along the Chinese border. China likes Russia’s cheap oil. However, as soon as it’s clear that Russia has lost, China will back away and pretend that they always supported Ukraine. They don’t want to be the pariah that Russia is now. The world community has already shown that it will band together to cut trade, and there would be a lot of starving Chinese and the whole country would blow apart without world trade.

      So, did you come up with that theory on your own, or did you get that from FOX News?

  4. Darren

    Again, nothing in our Government happens by mistake.
    It was know in advance how this was going to play out.

    Maybe the responses of people are a little more one way or another
    than our political elites expected, but non the less planed.

    The thing to find out is how Biden is directly collecting income off this.
    Or is it just favoritism in ( I will owe you one ).

    • Joseph S. Bruder

      Anyone can say their predictions were right after something happens. At any given time, there are predictions on both sides of an issue, and maybe 5% of them will be correct. And certain actions are almost guaranteed to get a specific response. Your post is just about the same Q-level conspiracy as 9mm above.

      I could predict that the US will put more people on the moon in the next 5 years, and at the same time say “but if there’s an explosion or accident that kills people, they’ll pull back for 20 years”. That hedges my bets so that I could claim victory in either case.

      I dare say that if Putin had known the war was going to go the way it has, he probably would have kept Crimea and what part of Ukraine that he already had and left the rest of Ukraine alone.

  5. Darren

    Putin’s plans are not necessarily our governments plans.
    Every country has their own agendas. Even if an agreement was made, there is always
    the unexpected turns of events. No emergency happens with no benefactor.
    Saying this was not planned is like saying our government is %100 honest with the American

    • Joseph S. Bruder

      The US reacted to Putin’s actions, and no doubt had some contingency plans for that scenario. The government is essentially a big insurance company, and constantly looks at risks around the world that would affect the well being of the country. That’s pretty much the entire job of the CIA and NSA, and they feed that info to other parts of the government for assessing the actions of other actors around the world.

      That said, it’s a huge leap to say that the US directly planned and coordinated the war with Russia.