Did Western Sanctions Miss Their Mark?

The popular mantra of Russian politicians, experts and media loyal to the Kremlin, denounced in the West as “Kremlin propaganda,” is unexpectedly echoed by Russian irreconcilable critics of the Putin establishment, writes Sergei Strokan

The sanctions imposed by the US and its European allies on Russia after the start of the military operation in Ukraine last February did not lead to the collapse of the Russian economy and domestic political turmoil, but on the contrary opened new markets and business opportunities and consolidated President Putin’s personal power.

The Russian leader, hated and written off by the West, with US President Joe Biden and European leaders desperately trying to prevent his victory seen as a major challenge to liberal democracies is de facto already winning. Putin is winning not only inside Russia where he is expected to confidently extend his term at presidential election next March, but also in Ukraine, which is facing the threat of military defeat.

The popular mantra of Russian politicians, experts and media loyal to the Kremlin, denounced in the West as “Kremlin propaganda,” is unexpectedly echoed by Russian irreconcilable critics of the Putin establishment. Former officials, politicians, and businessmen living in exile in the West, each of them having his own personal conflict with the Russian government, voice growing disappointment that the war of sanctions against Russia has not justified their hopes.

The new striking tendency is illustrated by the recent interview of disgraced Russian businessman Yevgeny Chichvarkin granted to the YouTube channel “Living Nail”. Yevgeny Chichvarkin, who currently lives in London, was the owner of the Euroset Russian company — a one-time leader at Russia’s cellular services market which was shut down after a fraud case initiated against its founder.

Chichvarkin himself, who managed to escape prosecution and settled in London, was officially proclaimed a foreign agent in Russia. Long before the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, in his interviews from the British capital, he repeatedly spoke out against Vladimir Putin and Russia’s political system of power and economic model.

However, Chichvarkin’s latest statement, in which he openly called for recognizing the West’s loss in the confrontation with President Putin and accused Western leaders of doing everything to make the Russian leader win, strikes with shocking frankness and radically differs from all his previous statements.

“Look at present-day Russia. The West has built a “fence” for half of the country, with neither people nor money being able to get out of it, but money for oil, gas and other minerals is thrown behind this “fence” all the time. Therefore, there is a lot of money and people behind the “fence”,” Chichvarkin says. According to him, the departure of Western companies did not negatively affect the Russian industry, moreover, it created a new incentive for its development.

“Everything has recovered phenomenally. IKEA is gone — the local companies that produce furniture are on top. Western car manufacturers are gone — Chinese “microwaves” on wheels are selling great. It’s all good.  Russians say now “we will open our furniture production, and our national fast-food network “Delicious — and full stop” instead of “McDonald’s”, and our -Starbucks – we will do everything ourselves. We can do it without you, guy at the West, but you can’t do without us,” Chichvarkin argued.

According to him, the West has shot its own leg “by imposing its moronic sanctions which only make Russia to adopt the notorious North Korea ideas of Chuche or self-reliance. Adding to that, “everyone who wanted and did not want to returned are returning to Putin.”

“While punishing ordinary citizens, Western countries really did nothing against Putin, says  Chichvarkin.

“Western leaders have done a lot to confirm what Putin has always said: “We are in a ring of enemies.  Europe went into hysterics, raising gas prices on the stock exchange five times, stuffing Gazprom  pockets with money” Yevgeny Chichvarkin notes.

The disgraced businessman also referred to analytical articles claiming that “without Russian fertilizers, there will be galloping food inflation in the world and therefore you need to close your eyes and continue to buy Russian fertilizers.” “And they continue to buy fertilizers, while rejoicing that they had the courage to confiscate a beautiful yacht from the owner of a fertilizer company,” Evgeny Chichvarkin laments, calling for understanding that the West, with its sanctions and restrictions, has done “everything to enable  Putin to win, and he wins.”


“We lost, let’s just admit it,” London-based Kremlin critic says.

Another example of the amazing metamorphosis that is happening to critics of the Kremlin living in the West was the change in the tone of the statements by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov. In an interview with the famous Ukrainian TV journalist Dmitry Gordon, which he gave this July, Garry Kasparov said: “Ukraine’s war with Russia will end next summer with a complete victory for Kiev. This is the only way for Joe Biden to be re-elected in the presidential election. It is necessary to win the war in June next year, so that everyone says that Joe Biden led Ukraine to victory over the evil empire.” According to Garry Kasparov, the entire military industry of the USA and Europe is working for the victory of Ukraine.

However, just six months later, Kasparov’s  statements are full of disappointment and frustration that the Ukraine project of President Biden didn’t work the way he wanted. According to exiled Russian opposition leader, President Biden turned out to be weak and lost precious time not providing Ukraine with all the weapons and ammunition it needed, thereby creating a threat of its defeat.

“The USA is the slowest member of the Western alliance. The once timid Europeans are now more determined than the Biden administration, which still disputes every supply of weapons. Making things even worse, reports of behind-the-scenes contacts between current and former American officials and the Russian authorities undermine the concept of NATO unity and deterrence of Vladimir Putin’s terrorist regime,” laments Garry Kasparov.

All in all, Garry Kasparov who wished the defeat to his own country  and is seen in Russia as a traitor may one day wake up to new frightening reality — the defeat of Ukraine.

(Sergei Strokan is a veteran journalist, writer and columnist of the Kommersant publishing house based in Moscow. The views expressed are personal and exclusive to India Narrative)

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