Russia’s months-long build up of troops along the Ukrainian border is starting Russia has followed through with its months-long threats of invasion of Now that the question of a Russian invasion of Ukraine has proven itself not to be a hypothetical, Western governments will be pushed to respond. The United States and its European allies are likely to pursue a sanctions campaign, but this is easier said than done. While it has been popular to deride Russia and its economy as a “gas station” masquerading as a country, the reality is that Russia is a significant–often the largest–exporter of several critical commodities. Russian exports directly feed and fuel (or enable the processes to do so) vast swathes of the world from South America to the Middle East and East Asia–in addition to lighting and heating European homes and supplying crude oil to US Gulf Coast refineries. For the latter scenario, Russian crude exports to the world’s largest oil producer picked up significantly in 2021 as a result of US sanctions against Venezuela, illustrating the double-edged nature of sanctions in the globalized economy.

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