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Sanctions Against Russia

Sanctions penalize and coerce countries, but there are plenty of ways to get around them.

Sanctions are seen as a coercive tool in foreign policy, used to shape the wayward actions of a country by setting financial penalties on a state and its leaders, limiting their ability to conduct business internationally. However, if there are sanctions, there are also ways to get around those sanctions.

What if other countries still really want to buy something you're selling? 

For example, as Ukraine was invaded, a large part of the international community sanctioned Russia. These sanctions imposed drastic economic penalties on Russia and symbolized much of the world's disdain for the invasion as illegitimate and a violation of international norms. 

But there's something we generally don't talk about—for the most part, these sanctions are being avoided. Countries uninvolved in the sanctions still buy Russian oil and natural gas. Sometimes they even repackage these assets for sale on the international market. 

Russia currently sells unrefined oil to India. India pays for this oil in rubles, which, in turn, stabilizes the Russian currency. Because India is one of the few purchasers of Russian oil, it can afford to purchase below the market rate. Once the oil is refined and mixed with legitimate oil sources, it cannot be traced to Russia. It can then be resold at market value for a healthy profit, often to the very states that claim to be enforcing sanctions against Russia. 


Chow, Edward C. Smart Oil Sanctions against Russia.

Kasturi, Charu Sudan. “Why India Can’t Quit Russian Oil.” Foreign Policy,

Myllyvirta, Lauri, et al. “Financing Putin’s War: Fossil Fuel Imports from Russia in the First 100 Days of the Invasion.” Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air,

Verma, Nidhi. “US Tells India That Indian Ship Used to Reroute Russian-Linked Fuel to New York.” Reuters, 17 Aug. 2022.,

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