Sanctions on Russia won't last

Events in Ukraine are intense and the outcome is unclear. Just about every moral judgment seems to have already been issued. Minds are made up. Virtually all sanctions are being applied to Russia.

The US was trying to pivot to what it sees as the China threat, not Russia. The sanctions applied to Russia are therefore unscheduled, reactive, and possibly disruptive to America's own global strategy.

US thrown off balance by Russian surprises

Because of the degree of coordination between Russia and China, Moscow's decision to act bullishly against NATO-groomed Ukraine may be a calculated move to somehow benefit Beijing and help overturn Washington's domination. The Western leaders react predictably, and all their attention is going to be on Russia for some time.

Events are unfolding similarly to the start of the original Cold War (which was "hot" when it began), but in Ukraine rather than the Korean Peninsula. We are in a period of acute hostility and denunciation that nobody can escape. Crackdowns on allegedly pro-Russian "treason", which encompasses mere remarks and media appearances, may resemble the talk of the 1950s. The dismantlement of global security and arms control treaties guarantees a horrifying nuclear war scare. Both sides will feel as if we confront a faceless, dark, silent enemy whose views and motives we are prohibited from seeing. All news will be the most vulgar propaganda, with barely a shred of truth.

None of the horror will last, however. A kinder politics is always inevitably around the corner, be it ten years away or twenty years away, when thinking people grow tired of the established warmongers and their canards.

Western sanctions on Russia could take a long time to really make people reconsider any foreign policy choices, if they have any effect at all and are not just political gestures to placate our own populations in the West. Difficulty getting something like microchips and the latest mobile phones could, at a guess, take multiple years to actually alarm society in Russia, and they may simply be able to get decent alternative products from China.

Future reset to occur on basis of respect with Russia

The disputes surrounding Ukraine, which at the time of writing were being addressed in a violent and chaotic manner that is difficult to track, could be resolved long before sanctions could hope to damage Russia, and be steadily lifted by dovish future administrations in Western governments. At that point, a certain respect for Russia's security would have developed, rather than merely casting everything the Russians do as villainy.

A final point to consider is that full sanctions on Russia mean the West no longer has any tools in its sanctions box for influencing Russia. If all these sanctions are aimed at Russian policy in Ukraine, more sanctions can't be allocated to deal with other Russian actions, for example, if the Russians choose to be more violent in their intervention in Syria. The West could end up in a position where it has more grievances against Russia than sanctions it can use to retaliate for them, having exhausted them all on Ukraine.

In such a position, Western leaders may be forced to offer sanctions relief in exchange for Russian help on entirely new crises, or the West will appear to be out of options. In seeing as much, Moscow now has every reason to carry on annoying Washington and doing everything to make it uncomfortable around the world, until Washington offers sanctions relief in exchange for Moscow ceasing its own actions.