A wave of sanctions hitting Russia highlights the complex web of connections that make up contemporary global society – and its ultimate fragility.
Vladimir Putin’s Russia is facing a wave of truly unprecedented financial sanctions in retaliation for its widely scorned invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions have suddenly revealed the massive power that lay dormant in the unified global banking system for decades. But it likely also marks the beginning of that power’s end, and the dawn of something more fragmented.
Russia’s dependence on systems like SWIFT bank messaging, correspondent banking and ApplePay is a product of the global dominance of a unified market-capitalist status quo. This status quo represents the neoliberal “End of History” that was widely presumed to have arrived with the fall of the Soviet Union. But there may be no better sign of the end of the End of History than the weaponization of finance happening right now.
The scope of sanctions hitting Russia over the last week has showcased the incredible web of nested cross-border interdependencies that make up the fabric of essentially every contemporary society – and their ultimate fragility. Some Russian banks have been disconnected from the SWIFT messaging system crucial to international transfers. Shares in one of Russia’s largest banks collapsed 95% on the London Stock Exchange. The ruble has declined by roughly 50% against the dollar in just a week, a body blow to the Russian economy that would have long-lasting effects even if it is a short term dip – which it won’t be.