Be ready for a long haul. That was the subtext of Boris Johnson’s message to MPs as he committed to toughening up sanctions against Russia.
The warning to prepare for a “protracted struggle” was both timely and appropriate. There will be no quick knockout blow because Vladimir Putin has had time to prepare and is well dug-in.
On the face of it, it should be an unequal fight. Russia is the world’s biggest landmass but has annual output smaller than Italy’s. Income a head is about a quarter of that in the UK.
Russia’s economy has gone through distinct phases since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s: an initial shock treatment that resulted in a savage recession and culminated in a financial crisis in 1998; a strong recovery in the first decade of the 21st century on the back of booming oil and gas exports; and a recent period of stagnation as the failure to diversify the economy took its toll.
After growing by 7%…