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Are US sanctions against Iran & Russia backfiring in dangerous ways?

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Originally published in Responsible Statecraft

Washington has increasingly turned to economic sanctions to address its security concerns with both Russia and Iran, but these separate efforts have interacted in ways that risks backfiring, rather than boost U.S. and regional security. 

In Iran, U.S. sanctions have successfully hobbled Tehran’s economy but have inadvertently generated domestic resistance to ongoing negotiations and hindered diplomatic efforts to curtail its contested nuclear program. 

Similarly, sanctions against Russia that followed its invasion of Ukraine initially slashed its GDP but have since incentivized Moscow to find new allies and markets, thereby reducing sanctions’ coercive power and increasing the Kremlin’s ties with partners willing to undermine Western efforts to isolate it. 

Separate sanctions efforts have thus inadvertently incentivized two of Washington’s most pressing threats to regional peace to increase their economic and security cooperation.

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