The Sanctions Response to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

April 2024 No Comments

Speaker: Christine Abely (New England Law | Boston)

Date: 9 April 2024

Speaker Session Summary

The sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its past aggressive actions, such as the annexation of Crimea, targeted actors directly involved in its aggression. However, the current sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine have a much broader scope, encompassing actors and institutions throughout Russian society. Ms. Abely characterizes these sanctions as multilateral, despite the United Nations’ inability to impose sanctions due to Russia’s veto power within the UN. Despite this limitation, many individual states have taken independent action to impose sanctions, targeting Russian individuals, organizations, and financial institutions. Ms. Abely emphasizes that the current focus of these sanctioning states is to undermine Russia’s ability to evade or circumvent the sanctions through trade with non-sanctioning countries, such as India, China, and much of South America. 

Ms. Abely underscores the significance of removing Russian financial institutions from SWIFT’s messaging system, which restricts the ability of Russian banks to engage in international financial transactions. This limitation, coupled with import and export controls on specific goods such as Russian diamonds, as well as price caps on Russian oil and gas, has significantly impacted the Russian economy and its capacity to conduct warfare. Additionally, some private companies in Western states have voluntarily opted to cease cooperation with their Russian counterparts. These sanctions have been effective to the extent that Russia has been compelled to divert resources from its civilian sector to bolster its war fighting industry. However, Ms. Abely also highlights a potential downside of the eagerness of many Western countries to comply with the sanctions, known as “over-compliance,” which can exacerbate the target country’s economic hardship to the point of causing direct or indirect humanitarian crises. She cites the example of the global grain and cost of energy as direct and indirect outcomes of “over-compliance.”  

Speaker Session Recording

Briefing Materials:

Biography: Christine Abely is an Assistant Professor of Law at New England Law | Boston. She is the author of The Russia Sanctions: The Economic Response to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine (Cambridge University Press 2023). She has discussed sanctions on Bloomberg Businessweek, Texas Public Radio, Boston Public Radio, and other outlets; her essays and op-eds on sanctions have appeared in the L.A. Times, Just Security, and elsewhere. Prior to working in academia, she practiced international trade and sanctions law. She is also a licensed customs broker.



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