WSJ: Sanctions on Russia Not Working
Substantial evidence is emerging that U.S. and world sanctions are not as crippling as the Biden Administration has promised. As we have said previously, Putin has been planning this invasion for 10 years or more. Preparations were made.
According to reports by the Wall Street Journal, the withdrawal of Mastercard and Visa has had minimal effects on disrupting the Russian payments system.
Their withdrawal was designed to be a major blow to the average Russian consumer crippling payments systems and disrupting commerce.
However, Russia has been working for the last 8 years to insulate the Russian economy from Western economic pressures. They have aggressively built a company called MIR, built on its own National Payment Card System (Russian initials NSPK). Over 100 million cards have been issued since its launch in 2015.
We see that the Russian Ruble has rebounded from its previous crash, approaching its pre-war strength. The finance world appears to be hedging its bets against a potential Russian economic failure, seeing that perhaps the war will be over soon and betting that the financial markets will mend themselves.
Additionally, WSJ has noted a rebound in Russian corporate bonds. “Distressed-debt investors are driving a recovery in Russian corporates, betting those with foreign assets can pay their debts despite Western sanctions”
Russia has also been busy firming up its new plans for oil, attempting to demand payment directly in Rubles. China has been attempting for some time to establish the Yuan as a currency for oil. Each of these is an attack on the “petrodollar” whereby oil transactions are conducted in dollars. If established, this would be a major blow to the stability of the world oil markets because neither the Ruble nor the Yuan are directly convertible, and each has a long history of manipulation.
Slovakia has agreed to the “petro-ruble” in order to keep the flow of gas and oil to its cities. Look for others to step up and agree as well.
We have no doubt that some sanctions, notably the personal sanctions on the Russian oligarchs, are causing strain in Russia and in Putin’s immediate circle of power.
But as we have mentioned many times, Putin has been planning this war for 10 years. Putin has found that U.S. sanctions were predictable, and at least somewhat defensible.
That is not to say they will not do damage to Russia’s economy in the longer term, but right now this is a battle of time. Can Russia outlast the sanctions until military operations are over and a settlement reached? It appears Putin has thought and planned in this respect.
Remember that Russia has not yet used its ace in the hole. They could cause a great amount of hardship in Europe by cutting off gas deliveries. Biden’s promises to aid Europe in this respect are empty at best.
They are saving that one as a threat for when the new agreement with Ukraine is settled, to issue a joint Ukraine/Russia request for relief of sanctions.