Cornhusker Economics

By Wes Peterson

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to extensive economic, financial, trade, and other types of sanctions directed at individual Russians and the Russian economy. Most European and North American countries as well as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Korea have enacted sanctions and many of them are also supporting Ukraine with military and economic assistance. Many other countries including China, India, and Brazil do not support the sanctions although 141 countries belonging to the United Nations (out of a total membership of 193) voted to condemn the war (Piatetsky 2022). Since the end of the Cold War, sanctions have become a prominent foreign policy tool aimed at altering the behavior of governments in other countries without taking the drastic step of going to war. Their effectiveness at changing the undesirable behavior of political leaders in countries such as Russia, Iran, or North Korea has generally been unimpressive. While economic sanctions did eventually result in an agreement with Iran to control its development of nuclear arms, an agreement with which the Iranian government was complying, the Trump Administration withdrew from that compact, and it has proved difficult to re-instate it. Meanwhile, Iran may be resuming its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Past experience with sanctions calls into question the likelihood that the current measures taken against Russia will result in early termination of the war in Ukraine.