Ukraine-Russia war: Russia, the world's most-sanctioned country - report

The total number of sanctions against Russia stands at 5,532, which is more than those imposed on Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and Myanmar combined.

 Plastic letters arranged to read "Sanctions" and solider toys are placed in front of Ukraine's and Russia's flag colors in this illustration taken February 25, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)
Plastic letters arranged to read "Sanctions" and solider toys are placed in front of Ukraine's and Russia's flag colors in this illustration taken February 25, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)

Russia has officially become the most-sanctioned nation on Earth in the span of just 10 days, surpassing the likes of North Korea and Iran, due to the recent actions of President Vladimir Putin regarding Ukraine, according to sanctions-tracking database Castellum.ai.

Russia, the most sanctioned country

The Russian Federation had already been sanctioned numerous times over the years. According to Castellum.ai, the country had been hit with 2,754 sanctions prior to February 22, two weeks ago. 

This was already a large amount, one of the largest in the world, but it paled in comparison to Iran, which suffers 3,616 sanctions.

But everything changed on February 22, when, after weeks of military buildups on the Ukrainian border and rising tensions, Putin recognized the independence of the Russian-backed separatist-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine. 

Following this move, Russia was hit by several more sanctions from the US and its allies. This number only increased after February 24 when Russia's invasion into Ukraine officially began and the current conflict broke out.

 Israelis protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine in front of the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Israelis protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine in front of the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

According to Castellum.ai, Russia has been hit by 2,778 new sanctions since February 22, more than double the number of sanctions already weighed against it and skyrocketing the overall total to 5,532.

For comparison, not only is this total higher than Iran's, but it is more than the total number of sanctions imposed against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and Myanmar combined, as noted by Castellum.ai.

This puts Russia firmly in first place internationally, followed by Iran and then by Syria with 2,608 sanctions and North Korea with 2,077.

And this number is only expected to continue climbing as the conflict continues and more measures are taken against Ukraine's invading northeastern neighbor. 

How do sanctions work?

There have been, broadly speaking, two types of sanction being imposed: Against individuals and against entities. 

Individual sanctions target specific Russian nationals, something that has been seen in sanctions targeting Russian politicians and wealthy oligarchs.

Entity sanctions, by contrast, go after organizations, institutions and companies, something also seen  with many recent sanctions.

According to the sanctions-tracking database, the vast majority of new sanctions (2,427 out of 2,778) have been targeting individuals, while 343 have been going after entities, and the remaining eight going after vessels and aircraft.

Regarding the number of sanctions, most (568 out of 2,778) have come from Switzerland, according to Castellum.ai. This is followed by the European Union with 518, France with 512, Canada with 454, Australia with 413, the US with 243 and with the UK and Japan rounding up the bottom.

But in terms of total sanctions, the country imposing the most is the US (1,194 out of 5,532), followed by Canada with 908, Switzerland with 824, the EU with 766, France with 760, Australia with 233 and the UK and Japan rounding up the bottom.

Corporate pullouts

It isn't just countries that are reacting economically to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Numerous corporations from around the world have suspended operations or even pulled out entirely from Russia and, on occasion, Belarus due to the ongoing war. 

Two of the most recent companies include US credit card company American Express as well as streaming giant Netflix, but the list is far more exhaustive and includes corporations from nearly every sector, such as energy firms like BP and Shell, automotive firms like General Motors, luxury brands like Swarovsky and even retailers like IKEA.

Economic impact

“This is financial nuclear war and the largest sanctions event in history,” said Peter Piatetsky, a former Treasury Department official in the Obama and Trump administrations who co-founded Castellum.ai, according to Bloomberg. “Russia went from being part of the global economy to the single largest target of global sanctions and a financial pariah in less than two weeks.”

This comment reflects the growing financial crisis Russia is currently experiencing as it continues its war in Ukraine.

The most severe sanction thus far has been cutting Russia off of the global financial transaction system SWIFT, which has blocked it from around half of its foreign reserves, according to the sanctions tracker. 

Further, the crisis will likely soon get worse as Kyiv continues to call for harsh restrictions and penalties against Moscow.

According to The Washington Post, senior Ukrainian government official Davyd Arakhamia is expected to ask the US Congress to impose penalties on all companies that pay taxes in Russia, delisting them from the US stock exchange, as well as freezing the assets of all Russian oligarchs in the Forbes 100 list should they not denounce Putin.

“The taxes that these companies pay in Russia finance bombs that kill our military and innocent civilians, including children,” states the letter by Arakhamia, who is also the chairman of the US-Ukraine caucus, according to the Post. “We ask you to consider action of giving these companies a choice: stop paying money to [the] Russian government, or get delisted from the US stock market.”

Putin has not been unaware of the severe damage done by these sanctions and has even called them akin to a declaration of war.

Energy sector

Castellum.ai noted that Russian energy exports have seen little to no restrictions comparatively speaking, especially by world powers.

Russia is a major energy exporter, specifically of oil and natural gas, and Europe is heavily dependent on Moscow to meet its energy needs. 

While oil and gas prices have skyrocketed since the invasion, and interest in buying from Russia has been down due to the war and over fears of sanctions, it still does continue.

But that is something many in the world want to change.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CNN's State of the Union that the US and its allies are taking a look at "the prospect of banning the import of Russian oil, while making sure that there is still an appropriate supply of oil on world markets."

To that end, US President Joe Biden is actually considering a possible visit to Saudi Arabia, according to Axios.

The Gulf Arab kingdom is a leader in oil production internationally, and convincing them to pump more oil could significantly help take away Russia's advantage of being a major supplier of energy.

Similarly, Biden officials recently took a trip to Venezuela to meet with the government of President Nicolás Maduro, with some US lawmakers suggesting that the country on South America's northern coast, another major energy exporter, could replace Russia as a major energy source, according to The New York Times.

Natan Rothstein contributed to this report.