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Business realpolitik: sanctions on Russia may have unintended consequences

It’s complicated.

Foreign policy enmeshed in global commerce and finance can be very messy. It often requires a “time out” to reflect on unintended consequences.

That’s becoming evident with the sanctions “The West” has imposed — and might strengthen — on Russia for its re-absorption of Crimea and possible incursion into eastern Ukraine. Oil companies ranging from Exxon, Eni and Statoil to BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total, have a range of financial and operating connections with the Russian energy industry. Many international companies in other industries have their own involvement with the Russian economy.

Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasian Group, has just opined:”[Putin ] does not believe that the West would ever treat Russia like Iran and implement robust sanctions that would cut off vast areas of Russia’s economy from the West. As Mr. Putin recently explained, in a globalized world “it’s possible to damage each other — but this would be mutual damage.” (emphasis added.)

Of course, foreign policy tangled with international commerce and its resulting standard of living/quality of life is not new. For example, there was that “tea party” a couple of centuries ago. 

Much for national leaders to consider.