Ukraine-Russia war: As West's sanctions bite, Vladimir Putin needs to realise he cannot win – Scotsman comment

An appeal for calm by Russia’s central bank, the collapse in the value of the rouble, and queues of people waiting to withdraw cash are all signs that the sanctions imposed by the West in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine are starting to bite.

The Russian despot will have tried to predict how the world’s democracies would react to his brutal and unjustified assault on a sovereign nation, but he appears to have seriously miscalculated the pace at which sanctions would be applied and the extent of their impact.

Economics alone will not stop the Russian tanks moving towards Kyiv. The bravery of Ukrainians, both soldiers and the growing ranks of ‘home guard’, is being called on to do that.

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However, the Russian economy’s current state should make Putin realise he will not be able to achieve anything that looks like a Russian ‘victory’.

If that happened and the Ukrainians remained locked in a guerrilla war with occupying Russian forces, countries which have imposed sanctions would have no reason to remove them.

To do so would be to accept that military aggression pays. Any democratic government taking such a step would find itself voted out of office at the earliest opportunity.

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However, tyrants often struggle to understand the political realities of democracy and Putin may be no exception.

People walk along a street only recently hit by Russian shelling on the outskirts of Kyiv yesterday (Picture: Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images)

After he spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron by phone, the Kremlin said in a statement that a negotiated settlement would only be possible “if Russia's legitimate security interests are taken into account, including a recognition of Russia's sovereignty over Crimea, and a resolution of the objectives of demilitarisation and denazification of the Ukrainian state and ensuring it has a neutral status”.

If this deranged nonsense was Russia’s opening bargaining position in the talks with Ukraine yesterday, it shows Putin still thinks he has the upper hand despite the international coalition of world leaders determined that he must fail.

However, the problem for him is that as the current conflict continues, countries and companies are increasingly severing ties with Russia and forming alternative relationships elsewhere in the world. The damage to the Russian economy, which is smaller than Canada’s, will therefore become increasingly profound and long-term.

In this globalised world, it may be we are witnessing a new way to win a war.

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