Sanctions and Decision-Making Processes in Russia

Towards a Better Understanding?


  • Rebecca L. Smith Arcadia University



sanctions, Russia, Crimea, prospect theory, expected utility theory, annexation


Sanctions are a method for countries to coerce a change in policy. In theory, when Russia’s largest trading partners all placed sanctions on Russia following its annexation of Crimea, Russia would have eventually decided to withdraw from the region to reestablish its trade relations. Three years later, no such change in policy has occurred. This leads to the question: are sanctions on Russia ineffective? To better understand the extent to which sanctions on Russia are effective, this paper seeks to explore how one can best understand Russian foreign policy decision-making concerning Crimea in response to economic sanctions. To assess this question, I consider the Russian perception of the sanctions, applying Expected Utility Theory and Prospect Theory to investigate if either offer a useful framework for understanding the situation. Ultimately, I argue that Prospect Theory offers a useful lens to view the Russian foreign policy decision-making behavior while under sanctions.

Author Biography

Rebecca L. Smith, Arcadia University

Rebecca Smith, 22, from Norristown (Pennsylvania, United States), received her Bachelor's degree in Political Science at Arcadia University in 2016. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on the determinants of beliefs and perceptions about economic inequality. She currently works as a Legislative and Communications Specialist at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit. Her interests include economic segregation and political behavior.




How to Cite

Smith, R. L. (2017). Sanctions and Decision-Making Processes in Russia: Towards a Better Understanding?. Politikon: The IAPSS Journal of Political Science, 33, 47–61.



Research articles