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  • Writer's pictureBen Silvian

Affirmative Sample Case: Sanctions on Russia

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Resolution: On balance, economic sanctions are reducing the threat Russia poses to Western interests

AFF - 685 Words

We affirm that On balance, economic sanctions are reducing the threat Russia poses to Western interests.

We observe that The preservation of Ukrainian sovereignty is the most important issue in today’s round.

This is for two reasons.

First, The Fall of Ukraine would bring about the Fall of Europe. Luis Simón of the Institute for European Studies writes in 2014 that if the West fails to stop Putin from seizing more of Ukraine, Russia would ramp up its imperialist aggression to unprecedented levels, pushing farther and farther, and ensuring a perilous future for Europe.

Second, Global Conflict. Michael Mandelbaum of JHU writes in 1999 that the most likely cause of an all-out international war in the 21st century will be a Russian seizure of Ukraine. That’s why the World Economic Forum in 2015 named Russian aggression in Mainland Ukraine the Number One threat to global stability.

Contention 1 is that Sanctions curb Russian Expansion in Ukraine

Vladimir Socor of the Jamestown Foundation writes in 2014 that prior to sanctions, Putin had no regard nor respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty. Indeed, Andrew Michta of Rhodes College observes in 2015 that Putin’s ambitions for domination extend far beyond Crimea. If left unabated, Putin would seize as much of Ukraine as he could. Sanctions prevent Russia from seizing more of Ukraine in two ways.

First, Threat Credibility. Paul Gregory of Forbes writes in 2014 that the imposition of sanctions has proven to Putin that there are consequences to his actions, and has made Putin fear the West’s threats of further sanctions.The result is a Russia that must cooperate with the West. Empirically, Patricia Davis of the University of Notre Dame finds in a 1997 study that the use of economic sanctions increases the likelihood of compliance in negotiations almost twofold.

Second, Raising the Cost of Military Escalation. Sanctions make it so that russia cannot afford to hold more territory. Daniel McCormack of the University of Pennsylvania explains in 2015 that specifically because of sanctions, Russia is unable afford the maintenance costs that are inherent in the occupation of more territory. In other words, sanctions make Putin unable to sustainably occupy more Ukrainian soil. McCormack concludes that, for this reason, sanctions prevented Putin from seizing larger slices of Ukraine.

Ultimately, José Luengo-Cabrera of the EU Institute for Security Studies finds in 2015 that if it weren’t for sanctions, Russia would have seized the Ukrainian city of Mariupol and assaulted the Ukrainian region of Donbass. Sanctions curbed aggression, and saved Ukraine

Contention 2 is that Sanctions Strengthen Ukraine.

Sanctions aide Ukraine in combatting Russian expansion in two ways.

First, by decimating the Russian Military. Stratfor find three weeks ago that Russia is actively cutting its military budget in 2016 as a result of financial strain from sanctions. Moreover, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov finds that Russia was only able to finance its modest 2015 military budget by draining its reserve funds, which will dry up in less than a year. Thus, in the long term, Russia won’t have the money to finance military improvements, making the Ukrainian military comparatively more powerful in the face of Russian expansion.

Second, by buying Ukraine time. Oleg Buklemishev finds in 2015 that sanctions forced Putin to agree to a ceasefire in Ukraine. The BBC finds in September of 2015, a week after a Ceasefire was implemented, conflict had fallen to its lowest level in the past year. Cabrera finds that ceasefires effectively bought Ukraine time to reform its security apparatus by appointing new leadership, eliminating corruption, and restructuring the chain of command. As a result of this reform, Ukraine has become more stable. Mark Sedra of the OECD writes in 2008 that Security Sector Reform is a precondition for stability and sustainable development. This newfound stability is the key to deterring Russia, as the Economist finds in 2014, Russia’s annexation of Crimea was only possible because Ukraine was unstable at the time.

Ultimately, Sanctions have helped Ukraine defend itself. Cabrera finds that, as a result of sanctions, Ukraine was able to beat back a Russian assault on the Ukrainian city of Marinka last June.


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