• Ben Silvian

Negative Sample Case - Sanctions on Russia

Updated: Aug 10

NEG - 640


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


Contention 1 is Russian Retaliation

Russia did not take sanctions lightly. Shabad of the Hill writes in 2014 that Putin responded to Western sanctions with his own counter-sanctions, banning european food imports, as it hoped that it could hurt the European economy enough to make the EU lift its own sanctions. These counter-sanctions have been devastating to Europe and the people who live there. Marcin Szczepański of The European Parliament reports in 2015 that they have cost the EU 92 billion dollars, and astoundingly, have cost 2.2 million European people their jobs.


Contention 2 is Increased Russian Aggression.

Sanctions fundamentally change Russia’s behavior by modifying Putin’s inner circle. Polly Mosendz of Newsweek reports in 2015 that prior to sanctions, Putin’s inner circle was made up of rich russian oligarchs whose goals were primarily economic.


Sanctions changed that. Henry Meyer of Bloomberg writes in 2015 that sanctions have cost many of these inner-circle oligarchs billions of dollars, prompting them to oppose Putin’s continued occupation of Ukraine. In response, according to Fred Weir of the Christian Science Monitor in 2015, Putin has pushed them out of his inner circle, and replaced them with militarist, anti-western advisors called Siloviki.

This is crucial, as Weir writes that Siloviki in newfound positions of power will certainly influence Putin’s decision making, and compel him to pursue a more aggressive, expansionist agenda. Stephen Blank of the US Army War College writes in 2013 that the Siloviki perpetuate a narrative of aggression, wherein Russia’s response to its current economic weakness must be outward aggression. Blank thus concludes that the probability of the Siloviki starting a major war is “alarmingly high.”


Prior to the imposition of sanctions and the rise of the Siloviki, Stefan Meister of the European Council on Foreign Relations wrote that Putin had no intention of moving beyond the Crimean peninsula and further into Ukraine because of high economic and political costs. However, in the year since sanctions, The Kremlin’s elevated aggression is apparent, and manifests itself in 3 ways.


First, conventional force. Batchelor of Express reported last month that Putin deployed an extra 20,000 troops in Ukraine to assist militants in the Ukrainian civil war. The Washington Post adds on New Year’s Eve that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is escalating, as last December was among the bloodiest months yet. Further, Ihor Kozak of the Atlantic Council writes in 2015 that Putin has armed Ukrainian militants with tanks, heavy artillery, and rocket systems that are capable of causing exceedingly large amounts of damage. In fact, Franklin Holcomb of the Institute for the Study of War reported three weeks ago that Russia has ramped up its aggression in Eastern Ukraine, seizing the village of Kominternove, which lies a mere 10 kilometers away from the critical port city of Mariupol.


Second, Covert Operations. The rise of the siloviki has elicited a shift to KGB-era tactics. Kozak explains that, in the past year, Russian Special Forces have intensified covert operations in peaceful cities, sowing the seeds of instability and chaos to show Ukrainian citizens that their police are too weak to protect them. Taillon of the Mackenzie Institute adds in 2015 that these operations can be seen in targeted assassinations, terror, sabotage, and mass-demonstrations to promote violence within the Ukrainian state. Kozak concludes that if this continues, Ukraine will turn into a failed state.


Third, Information Warfare. Peter Pomerantsev of the Atlantic writes in December 2015 that, in the year following sanctions, Russia has used hyper-intense propaganda to divide the Ukrainian population and cultivate unrest. According to Diana Dutsyk of Telekritika in late 2015, it’s already working. She finds that Russian propaganda has created panic, protests, disillusionment, distrust, and aggression within the Ukrainian state. It has even convinced 19% of the Ukrainian people that their government is fascist. Dutsyk concludes that the result will be the “destruction of Ukrainian statehood and peace.”


Thanks.