PARIS – Many critics argue that the sanctions imposed on Russia for its actions in Ukraine are ineffective, because they are too limited in scale and scope. Moreover, sanctions are seen as allowing President Vladimir Putin to blame the West for Russia’s internal problems. Indeed, some of Putin’s supporters within Russia welcome the sanctions as a means to compel Russian autarky – and thus strategic independence from the West.
But, having already deployed political repression, censorship, and propaganda, Putin’s tools for maintaining control as Russians’ living standards decline will be limited. The nature of that dilemma makes it impossible to predict what he will do next.