Centre for Defence Strategies

Russia is waging an outright war in Syria, a covert war in Ukraine, and a so-called hybrid war (by non-military means) against the West as a whole. Moreover, the Putin regime is gearing up for a global conflict. The reason for this is a distorted Russian perception of the security environment. In Russia, it is believed that US global leadership is primarily threatening Russia. After the collapse of the Soviet Union (which Putin described as ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe’), further European and Euro-Atlantic integration on the continent is perceived as a continuation of redrawing frontiers and pulling Moscow’s former sphere of influence into Washington’s orbit. Any action of the United States in support of its allies and partners is seen as the realisation of aggressive intentions. In addition, an authoritarian and repressive Russia, while economically and technologically backward as well as weak in military terms (compared to the United States, considered by the Russian elite to be the only real rival), in the view of the Russian political as well as the Russian politico-military establishment, should exploit a short window of opportunity to regain superpower status. The Kremlin considers a fragmented Europe and the declining role of the United States on the continent as the necessary conditions to compensate for the power asymmetry and to enable Russia’s return to the geopolitical arena in a restored capacity. The Russian ruling class imagines that the possession of nuclear weapons rules out the possibility of Yugoslav or Iraqi scenario, that “strategic corruption” and support for secessionist and destructive elements within Western societies shatter European and transatlantic unity, and that Moscow is entangling fragments of the former empire into its orbit. Under these circumstances, the Putin regime is challenging the West and is preparing for an escalation to make the United States reckon with Russia’s “right” to have spheres of influence and force America to recognise Russia’s role as a great power which is not only crucial to resolving global issues but also has veto power over decisions that run contrary to its whims.

The Russian military-industrial complex (MIC) serves as the enabler for Russia’s aggressive policy as well as one of the essential components of its economy. That is why it is necessary to see sanctions against the Russian MIC as a tool of constraining the Kremlin’s aggressive policies.

This study gives a general outline of the impact of sanctions on Russia whilst also aiming to justify the need to step up sanctions against Russia’s military-industrial complex and other strategic industries involved in Russia’s aggressive policy, which poses challenges and threats to the European continent, to North America, and to the Asia-Pacific region. This study also highlights the correlation between Crimea related issues to the range of problems caused by the actions of a much more powerful player, the Peoples Republic of China. This rising power has embarked on a more aggressive and sometimes antagonistic course in the Eastern Hemisphere that is almost synchronised with Russia’s actions in the West.