Foreign Relations

Should the U.S. keep its economic sanctions against Russia?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022 caused the United States and allies to impose unprecedented sanctions on Russia. Despite the severity of the measures, Russia has not retreated from Ukraine, leaving many asking whether sanctions are the best course of action.

Rise of the Issue

Russia is no stranger to sanctions from the West, whether due to alleged interference in the U.S. election or their 2014 annexation of Crimea. So when Russia waged a full-on war against Ukraine in February 2022, the U.S. and its allies turned to what they knew: more sanctions. Except this time, they were called ‘unprecedented’, sanctions the likes of which the world has not seen since the Second World War, to denounce Russia’s actions. This position by the U.S. has led many to wonder how effective these sanctions actually are and whether they are the right way to condemn the excessive violence Russia is using in its neighboring country. 

While some argue that the sanctions are slowly but surely chipping away at Russia’s economy, others believe you cannot fight off a military invasion with economic measures.

Issue Timeline

Feb. 2014

Russia Invades Crimea

The southeastern peninsula of Ukraine was taken over by Russia in an attempt to add Crimea to Russia’s territory, which was denounced by the international community.

March 2014

President Obama Sanctions Russia

The U.S. imposes sanctions to condemn Russia’s actions which they say “threatened the peace, security, stability and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

2014 - 2022

The U.S. implements additional sanctions on Russia

The Obama, Trump and Biden administrations mostly keep previous sanctions in place and add new ones, in response to various actions by Russia, such as alleged interference in U.S. elections, relations with Venezuela, and the Salisbury attack.

Feb. 2022

Russia Invades Ukraine

Russian forces enter Ukraine and use extreme violence in an attempt to take over their cities.

March 2022

U.S. and Allies Impose Unprecedented Sanctions

The international community’s initial response to Russia’s excessive violence in Ukraine is to impose the strictest economic sanctions to date.

Micro Issues


Sanctions’ Efficacy

One side says that the war has not stopped, so the sanctions aren’t working. The other side focuses on the long term effects and believes it is making an impact, if not right away.


Economic vs Military Action

While opponents do not believe in fighting military problems with economic solutions, supporters say hitting Russia’s economy will hurt their military in the long run.


Effects on Citizens

Sanctions do not just hurt governments, authorities or countries as a whole, they also impact the lives of individuals, in both the country that sanctions and that is being sanctioned. The two sides disagree on whether sanctions are worth the toll on ordinary citizens.

Pro Arguments


Russia’s weapon production is stagnating because of the sanctions.

Although Russia has its own facilities to produce weapons, the sanctions mean they cannot get their hands on all foreign parts needed to make them.


The sanctions are affecting Russia’s economy in the long run.

The Russian economy is slowly but surely being impacted by a decline in income from abroad due to expert restrictions.


Russia cannot produce certain goods because they lack foreign components.

Russia is highly dependent on foreign components – such as electrical and electronic equipment or car parts – for a large number of their products. The import restrictions means they will have to manufacture those products at a much lower quality, or not at all.


The unprecedented level of sanctions show moral outrage.

The measures are more far-reaching than ever before, sending a strong political message that Russia’s actions are unacceptable to the international community.


Russia’s ability to lend foreign money is impaired.

Since Western countries have cut Russia off from the international financial system, it has defaulted on its foreign loans for the first time in over a century. This will impact their ability to lend money from foreign investors in the future.

Con Arguments


The Russian economy is still functioning.

Despite an initial decrease in the ruble’s value, the Russians have managed to recover the value of their currency with far-reaching measures to keep demand for the ruble up.


Economic sanctions are being used to condemn a war.

Russia is committing unspeakable violence in Ukraine, and since the U.S. cannot intervene militarily, hitting Russia’s economy is an alternative means of taking a stand for Ukraine.


The sanctions impact ordinary Russians, especially the poorest ones.

The strategy is aimed at influencing the authorities to change their policies, but ordinary Russian citizens who have nothing to do with the war are paying the toll. Prices have gone up for Russians, and many of them are suffering because of it.


The sanctions affect the U.S. and other countries too.

Imposed sanctions on Russia have contributed to rising inflation, disruptions in supply chain and the likelihood of a recession due to the increase in food and gas prices.


Russia has not stopped the war in Ukraine due to the sanctions.

The violence in Ukraine is still ongoing months later, despite the economic sanctions from the West.