This is a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about Western sanctions imposed on Russia trying to imply that the West has scored an own goal because sanctions actually turned out to be beneficial to the Russian economy.
There is no link between developments in wheat exports and the sanctions against Russia. If in 2017, for the first time, Russia became the world's n°1 exporter of wheat supplying 20–23 percent of total world exports in 2017–2018, this is the result of an investment and development policy that started in the early 2000s and not in 2014. Climate change is also favourable to this development as new and huge territories become favourable to wheat production on the contrary to the evolution for a traditional wheat exporter like France.
The evolution in Russia's wheat exports in the long term also shows that the trend is the result of a long investment and development plan rather than Western sanctions. In 2010, after a dramatic year for agriculture because of the drought and fires, it was decided to stop Russian wheat exports leading to a critical situation for traditional Russian wheat buyers. In fact, the toxic mix of an industry oriented towards export and counter-sanctions on food products created a dramatic situation for millions of Russian citizens and taxes/quota on exportations are to be introduced see the following link a 25 euro/ton is planned.
EU sanctions and other restrictive measures were first applied in 2014 following the Russian annexation of Crimea. Since then, the list has been updated. The United States also imposed sanctions on Russia after the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity in 2014.
The sanctions are not helping Russia. According to a Bloomberg report, they have knocked off 6 percent of Russia’s GDP since 2014. The sanctions played a major role, although other factors were present as well. And the GDP of the Russian Federation is now 10 percent smaller than might have been expected before the crisis in Crimea. Sanctions also play an important role in the relatively small wage increase in Russia in comparison to other countries in 2019.
Most research supports the view that sanctions have worked noting the drag they have imposed on Russia’s general economic development since 2014. This adverse effect most likely operates by depressing both foreign trade and foreign capital flows into Russia. Or as The Washington Post said:
"The sanctions have stunted Russian economic growth and sapped the urban middle class of wealth and opportunity."
Russia’s own counter-sanctions have also had a clear negative effect on the welfare of the average Russian household.
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