The Sanctions Illusion

Why sanctions are created by Western politicians for Western audiences but have no meaningful impact on an adversary

Allan Milne Lees
9 min readMar 31, 2022


Image credit: PopKultur

Russia reels from the impact of Western sanctions!

This sort of headline is endlessly repeated by Western “news” organizations and for the most part people in the West believe it to be true, just as ordinary people always believe whatever they’re told by sources of purported authority.

As is generally the case, however, the reality is rather different. In the case of sanctions, which have never in human history altered the outcome of any conflict, the story is particularly threadbare.

Although Western journalists got all excited about the supposed impact of sanctions on Russia and penned endless tales about how the Russian economy would be crippled, one month into the conflict the data tells a very different story. And that’s not surprising, because sanctions are a means to pacify Western citizens while enabling their “leaders” to avoid taking any meaningful action and to avoid as much as possible disrupting the lives of pampered ignorant spoiled self-centered voters. We need only glance at the absurd protests in the USA over the modest increases in the price of vehicle fuel to see how little tolerance fat idle Westerners have for even the slightest hint of personal discomfort.

Avoiding upsetting Western voters, therefore, matters to politicians far more than actually responding in a meaningful way to Russian aggression. It’s hardly surprising that the supposedly “punishing” sanctions against Russia were in reality contrived to achieve as little as possible and have in reality achieved even less than that.

Although Russia is very much a disinformation State, economic data from a wide variety of sources enables us to build quite a reliable picture of what’s really happening there. And the picture we build shows us how ineffectual Western sanctions really are.

Starting with the exchange-rate for the Russian ruble, we see that it’s almost back to its pre-invasion level. Far from supposedly collapsing and thereby stoking Russian hyperinflation, the ruble has bounced back and is now nearly within the bounds of ordinary fluctuation. This is mostly…



Allan Milne Lees

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.