Economic consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war: A grim outlook

My recent blog for the Griffith Asia Institute draws on the latest evaluations by IMF, World Bank, and UN agencies. Ukraine is destroyed as a viable nation. Russia is expected to suffer its steepest recession since the early 1990s before a rather modest recovery in 2024. The economic reverberations of the war will be felt in Europe and the rest of the world.

Has the international community really turned against Russia?

Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine that began in late February 2022 has unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe. Early indications were that the international community turned decisively against Russia. This was reflected in the UN-led condemnations of the Russian invasion of Ukraine upheld by the majority of UN member countries.

The US and its NATO allies instituted a severe sanctions regime against Russia making it, as Al Jazeera puts it, ‘the most sanctioned country in the world’. It seems that the ‘international community’ no longer displays the apparent unity that was reflected in supporting UN resolutions against Russia.

Here is a summing up of the state of play with respect to the participation of countries in the sanctions regime. According to a tally maintained by Al Jazeera, 45  countries are involved in the sanctions regime: all 27 EU countries, other European countries, three Asian countries (Japan, Korea, Taiwan), the UK, USA, Canada, and antipodean outposts of the West – Australia and New Zealand.

See the very instructive map attached below.

There are 193 UN member states. Hence, the countries that have sanctioned Russia represent about 23% of UN membership.

When virtually all of Africa, and Asia are included plus South America, these regions did not mimic the sanctions regime of the USA and Europe. These regions represent more than 79% of the world’s population. So, the vast majority of the rest of the world outside the ‘West’ and some non-Western allies have not turned against Russia. They seem to be following a policy of non-alignment. They do not wish to be part of a ‘us vs them’ framework and succumb to the vicious Russophobia (as well as conspicuous Sinophobia) that is masquerading as the collective foreign policy of the West. There is a self-serving narrative that the Western leaders are dedicated to upholding a ‘rules-based’ international order against a rogue, nuclear-armed state. This self-indulgent view is not enticing the rest of the world to join the anti-Russia bandwagon. It might well be the beginning of a genuinely multipolar world.

Map of the sanctions regime against Russia

Source: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’