A currency exchange office in Saint Petersburg, Russia, January 2022
Anton Vaganov / Reuters

There is a widespread belief that Western sanctions on Russia have fallen flat. Proponents of this theory point to macroeconomic indicators suggesting that the Russian economy has proved resilient. Critics also highlight how sanctions haven’t had their desired effect: after all, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not moved to end his disastrous war against Ukraine.

These arguments, however, are misguided. It is important to note that Russia had the opportunity to cushion its economy against Western sanctions before Putin declared war. For starters, Russia accumulated substantial financial reserves. Since 2014, Russia has increased trade to Asia, which has allowed it

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