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The West’s Dilemma of Sanctioning Russian Aggression in Ukraine

Feb 11, 2022 | 22:44 GMT

The flags of NATO member countries are seen on a billboard in Riga, Latvia, on Nov. 28, 2021, two days before the start of meetings to discuss Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine. 

The flags of NATO member countries are seen on a billboard in Riga, Latvia, on Nov. 28, 2021, two days before the start of meetings to discuss Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine. 

(GINTS IVUSKANS/AFP via Getty Images)

Less than a month after the United Kingdom’s 1939 declaration of war against Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill famously described Russia’s actions as "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." Churchill’s quote likely still rings true today in how Western leaders view their Russian counterparts -- especially regarding Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine. But it is probably an even more accurate description of the trillion-dollar question North American and European governments are facing if Russia invades Ukraine -- that is, how to sanction the Russian economy in a way that maximizes pressure while minimizing blowback. ...