(The New York Times) WASHINGTON — As it tries to punish Moscow for its intervention in Ukraine, the White House asserts that the sanctions it has imposed have had a “significant impact” on Russia’s economy, but their real effect so far, according to economic specialists, appears to be more psychological than tangible.
White House officials have pointed to the fall of the Russian ruble and Moscow stock markets as evidence of the success they have had in pressuring the Kremlin. Yet the ruble and Russian markets fell before President Obama began imposing sanctions. Today, in fact, both the ruble and the markets are slightly stronger than they were before the first sanctions were announced.
Russia’s economic downturn predated any action by the United States or Europe and, to some extent, predated the Ukraine crisis. Specialists said the volatility surrounding Ukraine has clearly aggravated Russia’s economic problems by sapping international confidence, punishing its credit standing and increasing investor wariness. […]
Timothy M. Frye, director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, said the Russian economy was declining even without sanctions. “But it’s wrong to say that sanctions are not having any impact in Russia and that the Russian government can easily ignore them,” he said.
Still, Mr. Frye said Mr. Putin can now shift blame. “The sanctions do give the Russian government an excuse, a scapegoat for the poor economic performance,” he said. Russian officials are already saying its tough economic times “are due to the West’s nefarious activities, when in reality the underlying problems are Russia’s bad governance.”
See the full story “So Far, U.S. Sanctions Over Ukraine May Be Inflicting Only Limited Pain on Russia” by Peter Baker and Andrew E. Kramer © The New York Times