RUSI NewsbriefVOLUME 41ISSUE 2members only

The Structural Bias for Sanctions

Main Image Credit Vladimir Putin, Courtesy of Nikolay Vinokurov / Alamy Stock Photo

Sanctions have become a preferred arm of statecraft, especially in Washington. Reasons for this include the West’s confusion in confronting new forms of Russian aggression and the fact that economic sanctions shift the implementation cost from the public to the private sector.

There has been a sobering decline in East–West relations in recent years, and a corresponding search in Washington to find effective countermeasures to Russian actions. More than any other tool of statecraft, sanctions have led the Western policy response. This has especially been the case for the US, and the past quarter-century has seen a steady expansion in the US’s use of sanctions, despite patchy evidence of their effectiveness. But why have sanctions become the tool of

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