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Since Russia invaded Ukraine, allies levied more than 11,000 sanctions on Russia

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Since Russia invaded Ukraine over a year ago, the U.S. and other allies have imposed more than 11,000 sanctions on Russia. That makes Russia the most sanctioned country in the world. They're intended to weaken the Kremlin's ability to finance the war. But with no peace in sight, the effectiveness of all those sanctions remains in doubt. Rachel Ziemba is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, where she studies economics and security. Good morning, Rachel.

RACHEL ZIEMBA: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

FADEL: So we're now in the second year of this war. Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, shows no signs of backing off. Are sanctions working?

ZIEMBA: So sanctions are having an economic effect.

FADEL: OK.

ZIEMBA: They are increasing costs for Russia but were never really going to be a silver bullet to, on their own, bring the war to an end. And that's the situation we find ourselves in right now, that they are part of a package, along with military support and the situation on the ground. And that's going to be, I think, a difficult message for U.S. and allies to keep delivering.

FADEL: Now, we're in the second year, and like I said, it doesn't feel like Putin has shown any signs of backing off, despite the combined efforts, the military aid and these sanctions. Is there - are there lessons learned? Is there something the U.S. and allies are going to do differently in the year ahead?

ZIEMBA: Yes. I think there are a lot of lessons learned and maybe some lessons relearned - right? - that a large country like Russia that supplies natural resources that the - that sort of are important to the world is harder to sanction. They're harder to sanction when countries like China, but also Turkey and the UAE and India, want to buy some of those resources. And it's also challenging if we're not ready - if the sanctioning coalition wasn't ready to put some pain at home on the line.

One of the major things that the sanctioning coalition just started to do a couple of months ago was to actually target energy in a meaningful way. So that's current energy production. So we are seeing some impact of the European embargo and the associated price gap. I think we're also going to start seeing more measures that target intermediary countries that try to limit Russia's ability to buy the items it needs to rebuild and restock its military. But that enforcement phase isn't easy, even for a country with good intelligence and the like, as the U.S. does.

And so I think we're going to see both more sanctions, but we'll also continue to see some degree of Russian survival through this. And so I fear the - my baseline is a continued not only sort of war, but economic - a sort of attrition of more enforcement, cracking down, a bit of a game of whack-a-mole. But I do think that there is more commitment, and that's going to be something - I think the question mark will also come down to how countries like China respond in this environment.

FADEL: How much is China responsible for propping up Russia's economy, in the few seconds we have left?

ZIEMBA: Sure. So it's - so China is the biggest supplier of items to Russia. I haven't yet seen evidence that they are directly providing lethal support, but they are providing semiconductors and other chips. And that is something - you know, they're not cutting them off. And that is part and parcel of what is helping keep Russia engaged.

FADEL: Rachel Ziemba with the Center for a New American Security. Thank you so much.

ZIEMBA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.