April 2, 2014
US and European sanctions against Russia are designed to “punish” its actions in Crimea. However, instead of forcing Russia into economic and political submission, the sanctions will spur the country to greater political and economic independence.
Since the end of the Soviet Union, Russia’s economic progress and development has been directly dependent on political and economic institutions dominated by the West. From Russia’s integration into the World Trade Organization, to Russian dependence on Western banking and finance, Moscow has come to rely on precisely those institutions now being used against it. Naturally, any Russian countermeasures against the sanctions will aim to disentangle it from this US-, Anglo- and Euro-centric architecture, forcing Moscow to look elsewhere for its economic future. This need to find alternative modes of development and prosperity will contribute greatly toward the continuing shift to a multi-polar world.
Considering the vast sums of money and future investment at stake, it seems unlikely that there will be a monumental shift in the financial arrangement between Russia and the West, the current crisis notwithstanding. However, the recent actions taken by the US and its European partners underscore the need for Russia to consider viable alternatives to dependence on the West. This dependence takes many forms, from access to financing to revenue from energy exports – Russia heavily relies on Western capital to finance its budget and economic development.