Are Sanctions Against Russia Working?

If sanctions were not working, the Russians would not be so desperate to end them. A key message from President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev to their European neighbors is the plea to end the Western sanctions.

President Putin’s imposition of “reverse sanctions” was logical, and understandable as to why he ordered them, but over the longer term they have come to hamstring the economy even more. Ironically, the Western sanctions hurt wealthy individuals and businesses the most, while the reverse sanctions banning many products from Europe have hurt the Russian “little people” most.

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Grocery stores still are overflowing with food, mainly because Eurasian Union partners Belarus and Kazakhstan are cheating by mislabeling products. The Kremlin knows it, and is frustrated by it, but also understands that these products serve as a safety valve to hold discontent in check given the inflation and poorer quality of products available. The higher prices for truly less than ordinary goods hurts the folks who can least afford the economic pain.

In past years it was rare to see shoppers read food labels. That is a common reaction in an emerging economy as shoppers are thrilled with the expansion of choices. These days aisles are more clogged as shoppers in supermarkets whip out their reading glasses and spend time pouring over every ingredient, trying to decipher whether a product is really as good as labeled, or just another misrepresented pretender.