When the United States and European Union moved to curtail purchases of Russian fossil fuels this year, they hoped it would help make the Russian invasion of Ukraine so economically painful for Moscow that President Vladimir V. Putin would be forced to abandon it.
That prospect now seems remote at best.
China and India, the world’s most populous countries, have swooped in to buy roughly the same volume of Russian oil that would have gone to the West. Oil prices are so high that Russia is making even more money now from sales than it did before the war began four months ago. And its once-flailing currency has surged in value against the dollar.
Russian officials are smirking over what they are calling a spectacular failure to cow Mr. Putin. And the economic pain the oil boycott was meant to inflict is reverberating not so much in Moscow but in the West, especially the United States, where skyrocketing oil prices pose a potent threat to President Biden less than halfway into his term.
Some point out that Europe’s oil embargo has yet to take effect, and say the long-term effects of Russia’s economic ostracism over the war remain a powerful determiner of the country’s fate. Those effects extend far beyond the trade in fossil fuels, hobbling Russian banking and other industries, but it is largely the sale of oil and gas that keeps the government — and its military — afloat. [Continue reading…]