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Sanctions Play 'Key Role' In Russia's Economic Underperformance

Western sanctions have played an important factor leading to the underperformance of the Russian economy over the past four years, a new study indicates.

Bloomberg Economics on November 16 said that while lower oil prices had also hit the economy, sanctions placed on Moscow for its international aggression, alleged meddling in international elections, and suspected involved in assassination attempts are the "bigger culprit."

It said Russia's economy "is more than 10 percent smaller compared with what might have been expected at the end of 2013."

The United States and European Union imposed sanctions on Russia for its seizure and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014 and its support for separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine.

"The underperformance has been much bigger than crude [oil] alone can explain," said Scott Johnson, an analyst at Bloomberg Economics.

"Part of the gap is likely to reflect the enduring impact of sanctions both imposed and threatened over the last five years," he added.

The study added that the punitive measures on Moscow appeared to be having their intended effect -- pressuring Russia without spilling over and damaging other global economies.

Bloomberg analysts said that "the fact that the gap in potential versus actual growth continues to widen implies that sanctions are having a prolonged impact."

The situation puts in doubt Russian government forecasts that gross domestic product (GDP) growth will surpass 3 percent by 2021, double the 2017 rate.

"It's possible, but that pace won't be sustainable without a dramatic pickup in productivity gains," Bloomberg's Johnson wrote.

"If sanctions remain in place, as seems likely, that's one more reason to expect the economy to come up short."

With reporting by Bloomberg
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